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By Don. A Berry

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Additional resources for A Majority of Scoundrels: An Informal History of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company

Sample text

Or advised in the design, rather, by destroying those that didn’t meet her fancy. Over a period of years the form of the keelboat was standardized, and by the time of this narrative all were built to roughly the same pattern, with variations in size. Henry’s boat was probably anywhere from sixty to eighty feet long. Larger ones are on record, but that was about average. Her beam was about a quarter, say sixteen to eighteen feet. A heavy keel ran from bow to stern, and the hull was framed and planked.

Louis, General Ashley, too, was running into diffiailty of an expensive sort. First, the departure of the expedion‘s second boat, the Enterprize, had been delayed. Too many firms, new and old, were drawing heavily on St. Louis' resources that spring; men and material were hard to come by. Ashley had to wait, specifically, for guns, and may even have had trouble obtaining the Enterprize itself. The various companies were snapping up boats all up and down the river, as far as 150 miles from St. Louis.

In the process I’ve amused myself by speculating on one aspect or another of the fur trade and have set down the fruits, such as they are, of that speculation. This may deserve a bit of explanation. There is one principal difference between the amateur of history (which I am) and the professional historian. Not, I hope, in competence; the day is long past when inadequate research might be excused, and we are well rid of it. The difference is in the matter of opinions. The amateur can afford to have them.

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