Did you know that Jedediah Smith was born today in 1799? He was an American frontiersman, fur trader, cartographer, and explorer. Jedediah Smith explored the western frontier of the United States in what is now Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington. During his expeditions, he crossed the Sierra Nevada, the Great Basin Desert, Mojave Desert, and travelled on land along the coast from California to Oregon. He also survived a bear mauling.
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Jedediah’s mentor gave him a copy of Lewis and Clark’s book detailing their expedition to the Pacific. According to legend, Smith carried this book during his travels.
During one of his expeditions, Jedediah Smith was mauled by a bear. He was tackled to the ground by the bear. The bear ripped Smith’s side open with its claws and clamps its jaws around Smith’s head. For some reason, the bear retreated. Smith’s scalp and ear had been almost torn off. Smith’s companions cleaned his wounds, bound up his ribs, and sewed his scalp and ear back in place. From that point on, Jedediah wore his hair long to hide the scar.
His exploration led to settlers moving west to use South Pass to cross the Rocky Mountains. The path was already known by Canadian fur trappers, but kept secret.