Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thunder Jack - Mountain Men Honored in Montana

Just north of the tiny town of Wilsall, Montana is a sculpture dedicated to the region's European fur trappers, traders, and trail guides. In 2006, local artist Gary Kerby created this seven foot tall sculpture. Local school children named the work, "Thunder Jack" in the spirit of the local mountain men whose era is generally defined from 1805 to 1835 for this Montana region. My photo was taken mid-morning on February 16th. Note the lack of snow as the region had experienced four days of unseasonal warm temperatures.

Just below Thunder Jack is the Shields River. Named by Captain William Clark after John Shields, a member of the Lewis & Clark expedition, the river flows into the Yellowstone River to the south. At that junction, the Corps of Discovery guided by Sacajawea, the Shoshone women camped on their return journey from the Pacific. Much later in the 1860s the river valley served as an extension to the Bozeman trail connecting Fort Laramie, Wyoming to the gold fields at Virginia City, Montana. Emigrant wagon trains were guided through this valley using scouts and sometimes old mountain men. Know that.