In 1803 the United States negotiated and concluded the Louisiana Purchase with France effectively doubling the size of the country. One year later Thomas Jefferson sent the Lewis and Clark expedition into the new territory to explore and discover what lay in that wilderness. Until that time, the North America fur trade centered on the Saint Louis waterway and Great Lakes. But now the push to the Rocky Mountains and beyond would begin in earnest with John Jacob Astor forming the American Fur Company in 1808. The era of the mountain man had begun. More fur companies formed and along with free trappers, approximately 3,000 men sought the peltry of the beaver at the height of the fur trade.
It seems incredulous that a fashion - that of a beaver felt top hat – could launch a wave of commerce that would shape a continent. But it did.
It was the mountain men and traders of the era that showed the way west to those that would follow. And come they did: the settlers of the Oregon Trail, the miners, the cowboys and the railroads. They all followed in the footsteps of the mountain man. Joe captures this important era like no other artist. His passion is evident in his work.