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    A ’Rendezvous Experience’ presentation planned at the Riverton Museum on May 11

    (Riverton, WY) – The first of the Riverton Museum’s 2024 Children’s Exploration Series will pique the interest of those interested in learning about the historic Rendezvous days of the 1800s in a special presentation held at the museum on Saturday, May 11 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 Noon.

    CJ Vandermeulen of the 1838 Rendezvous will be the special guest speaker and presenter. CJ has helped set up highly authentic Rendezvous events, including the one that is currently on display in the Riverton Museum. He will be telling stories about the hardships of the trappers, bringing some furs and hides and some authentic trapping equipment, as well as other historical props for kids to look at and touch.

    CJ said that he would be going through a general overview of the Rocky Mountain fur trade era and the importance of the 1838 Rendezvous site.

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    “This site was pretty significant in the years of 1830 and 1838,” CJ said. “We’re very blessed to have the only absolute, well-documented site…we know exactly where it’s at. With most of the other rendezvous sites, we have a general idea. But with all of the documentation we have from journals and sketches, we know the exact geography, the confluence of the Little Wind, the Popo Agie, the Big Bend, the cliffs…the 1838 is the best most well-documented of all the rendezvous in the Rocky Mountains.”

    The word “rendezvous” is a French word that means “gathering.”

    “Mountain men would be up in the mountains and spend all winter trapping hides,” CJ continued. “In the early years, they had to go all the way back to St. Louis to sell their hides. The fur buyers figured out that it was easier and more beneficial for them to put together a wagon train of trade goods and come out to a designated rendezvous spot. All the mountain men would come there and they would bring trade goods and make a deal on all their hides and were instantly rich. As for the traders, the fur buyers would these tents with all these trade goods, so what they would do is settle on a price for all their hides and then offer something like store credit.”

    CJ will relay some stories of the free trappers, corporate traders, missionaries, and Native Americans in the area during that time.

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    “The Rendezvous wasn’t just one weekend; it was almost two months long,” he said. “Missionaries eventually joined the wagon trains with their wives to try to convert the Natives, you’d have a general company or corporation of several hundred traders and free trappers out here, but there were thousands of Natives. By the time you got into the later years like 1838, they figured out they could come to these rendezvous and make some money.”

    The ‘Rendezvous Experience’ is free and open to the public. The Children’s Exploration Series, sponsored by Pit Stop/Bailey Tire & Auto Care, provides children with hands-on learning experiences that focus on cultural history and our natural environment. Geology, Archaeology, Native American culture, agriculture, and pioneer history are the focus of the programs that children love to participate in.

    The Riverton Museum is located at 700 East Park Avenue, on the corner of E. Park and N. 7th Ave. It is now open seven days a week, Monday through Sunday, from 9:00 to 5:00 p.m. For more information, visit the Riverton Museum’s Facebook page, or call the museum at 307-856-2665.

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