Today we celebrate West Virginia day. What gives WV a right to their own day? Who knows, but we aren’t going to try to take it away from them. In fact, we’d like to use it to reflect on the roughnecks and literal trailblazers whose spirit is so perfectly embodied by West Virginia: America’s Mountain Men.
Seth Kinman (1815-1888)
Pictured above sitting on a chair that he made from more manliness than we will ever sniff in all of our days, Seth Kinman is exactly what pops into your brain when you think “Mountain Man,” whether you’ve seen him before or not. Kinman claimed that he had taken down more than 50 elk in one month. We certainly don’t doubt it, but you’re more than welcome to (at your own risk). As he settled into his golden years he spent the days doing some light crafting, which of course means making badass chairs out of antlers and bears on special order for four different presidents.
Jedediah Smith (1799-1831)
Jed was about as OG as mountain men get. The New Yorker trekked his way across the Rockies, the West Coast, and essentially owned the Southwest (way before Walter and Jesse did, bitch). He was the first American to set foot on many parts of the country, fought bravely in the North American Indian Wars, and didn’t even drink, swear, or smoke (pretty much our favorite parts of Mountain Manhood). It took an ambush of 15-20 Comanche Indians to take down Jed – it’s almost like “Strong” was his middle name. Oh wait, it was.
Kit Carson (1809 – 1868)
Carson was a military man, but qualifies for Mountain Man status through exploring much of the Rockies and Northern California (we’re going to guess the tie-dye, hippie, free-love hub that NorCal houses these days would MAKE HIM SICK). He also took a coast-to-coast journey to Washington to let the US Government know that the Mexican-American war had begun. Seriously. Nowadays Steve Guttenberg can’t fart without someone tweeting it, but back in Carson’s time there was an entire war going on that the government didn’t know about yet.
John “Liver-Eating” Johnson (1824 – 1900)
Not sure that too much has to be said about this Mountain Man beyond his name. Johnson served in the Mexican-American war but deserted after striking an officer and went on the lam with a brand new name – John, wait for it - Johnston. Good thinking, John, they’ll never find you now. While obviously not a rocket scientist, Johnson was a sharpshooter, sailor, trapper, and whiskey man. He died in California at the age of 76, which is like 150 in old-timey age.
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