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Museum of the Fur Trade trip

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Wolfy and I hit the road last week.  He came from eastern Nebraska (where it ain't too bad) and I dropped down from western South Dakota (where it was, as usual, windy).  We rode our motorcycles for this trip.  Wolfy lit up the road with his Harley Heritage Soft Tail and I was on my Yamaha Super Tenere.  Both bikes ran great, no issues coming or going for either of us.  We met at mid-day in Valentine Nebraska was where we stayed the first night and then we had a pleasant but slightly windy run over to Chadron the next morning.  About two hours on that section.

We stopped at the Museum of the Fur Trade which is just east of Chadron a bit and spent most of the morning there.  They have the largest collection of Trade Rifles in the world and quite a few of them are on display.  It had been about ten years since I was last there and they have upgraded the building front facade, have a lot of new displays that include some items that were not out last time.  This is probably the most interesting museum for a person interested in Bushcraft.  There is everything in the way of traditional tools and gear used by the fur traders and trappers in the west and in Alaska and Canada as well.  Lots of information now on the Russian's in Alaska and the Hudson's Bay Company and their entire organization. 

The new displays cover about everything one could think of.  They have original clothing and fabrics, a lot of blankets (including the oldest known HBC point blanket issued in 1775), traps, canoe cups, knives, powder cans, flints, strikers, bags, and every piece of equipment one would use from the very first trapping ventures to well into the early twentieth century days.  A great display of the equipment including rifles used by the buffalo hunters.  Early flint locks, a Sharp's, and a Remington rolling block.  There is a 36 foot replica of a freighter canoe hanging from the ceiling in one room.  It is above a reproduction of a Red River Cart used by the Metis in both Canada and the northern plains of the US.

Outside behind the museum building is a heirloom garden with plants from seeds obtained over 125 years ago and acquired from a pioneer horticulturist in the 1950's by the museum founder Charles Hanson.  They sell, if available, seeds from these plants in the museum store.  They only had tobacco and pumpkins when we were there last week and I got a packet of pumpkins.
The other attraction out back is the James Bordeaux trading post which was active in the 1830's and well into the period of the Indian Wars of the 1870's.  It is built on the site of the original post, used the original hearthstones from the fireplace and replicated the style of the logs used in the original post.  The roof is sod with a good growth of grass.  The small post is full of trade goods, furs, and artifacts used in the time it was operated.  There is an interesting history of the post on the internet at the museums website.

The director is James Hanson.   One of the books he wrote, and I have, is "Metal Weapons, Tools & Ornaments of the Teton Dakota Indians".    His father, Charles, wrote three that I have, The Hawken Rifle: Its Place In History, The Northwest Gun, and The Plains Rifle.  These are must haves for those interested in the rifles and their manufacture and use in the fur trade.
While we were at the museum we sat for a time and watched some of the 1922 movie "Nanook of the North" which was playing continuously in a corner of the large display room. 

We left the museum and went to check in at our motel in Chadron.  We ate supper at a great restaurant on a high hill in the southwest part of Chadron (The Country Kitchen).  How good was it?  I would drive down there just to eat there again.  Of course your experience may vary.

The next morning we headed home.  Wolfy went east and knocked off the whole 360 miles.  I went north into South Dakota and was home by noon.  I enjoyed this trip a lot.  Wolfy is great to travel with and we talked about a lot of stuff.  He brought along a Becker Kephart which I had never handled before and, of course, he knows a lot of stuff about a lot of things so conversation with him is educational and entertaining.  My ride home was shorter and I ran with some Nebraska pickups for a time that had me hitting 85 mph most of the way into the southern end of the Black Hills.

All in all a great trip and when you go with a friend it is even better.

Here are a few pics of the museum and a one of our bikes.

Our bikes

Trade axe heads

The blanket on the left was issued in 1775 to a Minuteman in the American Revolution.  It was used by a trader later from 1867 to 1908.

Voyager cups.  Similar to a European kuksa I think, these were carried by voyagers.  Many had exterior carvings of animals and so forth.

They had a lot of early beaver traps including one that was said to be the first made in America in the late 1700's.

Nice trip report.  Looks like a fascinating place to visit.  Glad you guys had a good time, good company and good food.

Pretty cool.  I pulled up Chadron.  Looks like a neat town to visit.  And only 153 miles from the kitschy tourist trap "WALLDRUG!".  We didn't care how kitschy.  We're from Florida.  Lol. 

Hope to get up that way soon.

(pssst.  Don't tell Kelly but I've been having dreams of a '66 Triumph bobtail.)

Moe M.:

 Stan and Wolfy,  I envy you guys, it looks like a great ride and a memorable trip,  and I thank you for sharing it with us.   :thumbsup: :cheers:


--- Quote from: madmaxine on September 24, 2021, 05:14:16 AM ---Pretty cool.  I pulled up Chadron.  Looks like a neat town to visit.  And only 153 miles from the kitschy tourist trap "WALLDRUG!".  We didn't care how kitschy.  We're from Florida.  Lol. 

Hope to get up that way soon.

(pssst.  Don't tell Kelly but I've been having dreams of a '66 Triumph bobtail.)

--- End quote ---

First rule of keeping secrets from she who must be obeyed............. ......don't use her screen name when you post.


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