Jim Bridger spent quite a bit of time in Grand County and has been cited as "one of the three or four most able, influential, and best known mountain men' according to historian Dan Thrapp. Born in Virginia in 1804, he was apprenticed to a blacksmith in St Louis at the age of fourteen, and in 1822, left to join Ashley's fur trading operation in the Yellowstone area of Wyoming. He claimed to have discovered the Great Salt Lake in 1824, believing it to be an arm of the Pacific Ocean. He was a co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, along with Tom Fitzpatrick and Milton Sublette.
While Bridger was illiterate, he was noted for both his intimate knowledge of the Rocky Mountains and his prevarications to impress newcomers. He was engaged in some battles with Indians, but was married to two Indian women; a Ute woman who died in childbirth, and then Shoshone women who bore him two children.
Jim's friendship with Louis Vasquez led to construction of a fort named Fort. Bridger on the Green River in Wyoming. As a guide, he led the infamous expedition of Sir George Gore through Grand County in 1855, in which Gore killed many thousands of animals and birds. During the excursion, he would join Gore for luxurious dinners with fine table service and discussions of Shakespeare. Bridger hired a teenaged boy to read him some of Shakespeare's plays but thought that many of the story lines were just "too vicious or ridiculous".
He was one of the most sought after guides of the West during his lifetime and guided American troops in the so called Mormon War of 1857-8. In his later years, Bridger acquired a farm near Westport Missouri, gradually became blind and died in 1873. His two sons buried him in the present Kansas City, but in 1904, his remains were moved to Mountain Washington Cemetery in Independence Missouri. Jim Bridger is immortalized with his name being given to many places in the West.
Dan L Thrapp, Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography, Vol II, Glendale CA 1988
Levette J. Davidson and Forrester Blake, Rocky Mountain Tales, Norman OK, 1947
Lee J. Humfreville; Twenty Years Among Our Hostile Indians, New York, 1899
Cecil J. Alter; James Bridger: Trapper, Frontiersman, Scout and Guide, Columbus OH, 1951
Hiram Martin Cuittenden, The American Fur Trade of the Far West, New York, 1902
Grenville Mellen Dodge, Biographical Sketch of James Bridger, Mountaineer, Trapper and Guide, New York, 1905
Stanley Vestal, Jim Bridger, Mountain Man: A Biography, New York, 1946