Great Gateway to The American Western Expansion
Great Gateway to the West, Wagon Trains, Fur Traders, Mountain Man,

Great Gateway to The American Western Expansion

 
   Better known as the Gateway to the West, St. Louis Missouri, originally a trading post was destined to become a major trade center first for the mountain man, fur trappers, fur traders and then for the wagon trains of pioneers going west. The Great Gateway to the West on the mighty Mississippi River

      The last trace of civilization existed here before entering the great unknown of the west. Fur traders, mountain man, explorers, gold miners, wagon trains of pioneers and opportunists crossed paths here as they bought supplies, traded horses and gathered information about their journey that laid ahead

     It was here that mountain man names such as Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, Jim Bridger, William Sublette, Jedidiah Smith, John Colter, and Manuel Lisa had their beginnings and the list goes on

       St. Louis was the starting point for the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804.   St. Louis by 1822 was already the largest town on the frontier due to the fur traders and many a mountain man.  It was in 1822, that William Ashley place an advertisement in the St. Louis Missouri Gazette and Public Advertiser for young enterprising men to become an adventuring  mountain man and fur trader for him.  Historically such names as Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith, and William Sublette the finest mountain man and fur trader of all times

    A Mountain man could sell Beaver pelts to the fur traders for $6.00 per pound in 1832.  With the collapse of the beaver hat industry the mountain man saw prices offered by fur traders drop to $3.50 per pound in the fall of 1833.  This was devastating to the mountain man

    The colorful years of the St. Louis river front began in 1816 with the arrival of the first steamboat.   River boat gambling and trade flourished in the town.   In 1850, St. Louis saw 2,800 steamboats arriving at its shores along the Mississippi River

    It was during this era that Samuel Clemens better known as Mark Twain was a river boat pilot on the Mississippi

As the pioneers moved west in small wagon trains it was at St. Louis that they converged to trade their horses for a team of oxen, secure a place with a wagon train and say their final good byes to the civilized world. In the spring wagon trains left each week

    During the gold rush period St. Louis was an active participant sending each spring river boats upstream 2,300 miles to Fort Benton.  Passengers were mountain men, artists, gold diggers, drummers and fur trappers. loaded with freight for the gold fields. In 1812 alone there were 50 wagons from wagon trains and shippers each day waiting to cross the Mississippi River

    In 1857 the Butterfield Overland Mail Company linked St. Louis to San Francisco by using its southern route and making the journey in 22 days by stagecoach.    Twice a week the stagecoach headed out of St. Louis bound for California with passengers and freight

    The steel trussed Eads' bridge crossed the Mississippi in 1874 replacing the train carrying ferries and making St. Louis accessible to an even bigger marketplace.  Union Station was opened in 1894 and could accommodate 18 railroads.   Truly the Gateway to the West was open

       The Gateway to the West is forever enshrined on the St. Louis river front with a massive 630 feet tall stainless steel arch dedicated to the Louisiana Purchase and the westward expansion that St. Louis took part in

 
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