Spur Award-winning nonfiction writer Jefferson Glass was born and raised in Oregon. He grew up knowing the tales of the Oregon Trail, Lewis and Clark and the great explorers of the Northwest.
At the age of 12, Glass would often walk out the back door of his family home to explore the thousands of acres of public land just beyond the back fence. There he could be a mountain man where the only rule was to be home by suppertime.
In his youth he read the fiction of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour, before he began to study the real mountain men of the 19th century. When he moved to Wyoming 35 years ago, he heard stories about a man known as John Reshaw. Curiosity got the best of him and twenty years later Glass published his award-winning biography, RESHAW—The Life and Times of John Baptiste Richard: Extraordinary Entrepreneur and Scoundrel of the Western Frontier (High Plains Press).
After you’ve finished reading RESHAW, Glass recommends a look at a few of his favorite armchair companions:
1. Voices of the American West (Richard E. Jensen editor, University of Nebraska Press): This is a two-volume set: The Indian Interviews and The Settler and Soldier Interviews of Eli S. Ricker, 1903-1919. When Judge Ricker retired near the turn of the 20th century he dedicated himself to interviewing every Native American and early frontiersman he could locate before their stories were lost forever. These accounts, a testament to an era, have not been recorded in any other publication.
2. A Majority of Scoundrels: An informal History of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company (Don Berry, Harper & Brothers): No mountain man library should be without this book. Berry shares the stories of dozens of well-known frontiersmen as well as many that few have heard of, all written in an easy-to-read manner that keeps you anxious to turn to the next page.
3. This Reckless Breed of Men: The Trappers and Fur Traders of the Southwest (Robert Glass Cleland, Alfred A Knopf): When exploring the fur trade of the early 19th century we often focus on the Rocky Mountains. Cleland brings attention to the industry in New Mexico, Arizona and California.
4. The Saga of Hugh Glass: Pirate, Pawnee, and Mountain Man (John Myers, University of Nebraska Press): This is arguably the most well-researched and accurate account of the life of Hugh Glass. There have been several novels written over the years based on the exploits of this legendary mountain man, yet few of them succeed in representing their tales in a more exciting manner than this true story.
5. The Oregon Trail (Francis Parkman, Jr., Oxford University Press): Although the title is misleading, this record of Parkman’s travels in 1846 is entertaining and informative. Beginning in St. Louis, the naïve adventurer embarked on the Oregon Trail to Fort Laramie in present-day Wyoming then south along the front range of the Rocky Mountains before returning to his home in Boston.