Finding Frémont: Pathfinder of the West
on exhibit through April 2019
John Charles Frémont (1813-1890, a.k.a. Pathinder) was internationally recognized as an American explorer, scientist, soldier, abolitionist and politician during the mid- to late-nineteenth century. Today very few know the “Pathfnder” or his considerable accomplishments. As explorer, Frémont mapped and described the emigrant route, later named the Oregon Trail, linking the United States (Missouri) with Oregon country between 1842 and 1844. He named numerous locations in the American West including the Great Basin, Las Vegas (Nevada), and the Golden Gate.
His explorations aided the U.S. in securing the contested Oregon country from Great Britain, and his expeditions and exploits in Alta California, Mexico, greatly supported the U.S. victory over Mexican armies. Tens of thousands of emigrants following the Oregon Trail were successfully guided to Oregon and California territories during the California Gold Rush using Frémont’s maps and 1845 report.
This exhibit highlights Lieutenant John C. Frémont’s 1842-44 expeditions to Oregon country and Alta California, Mexico, to map and describe the Oregon Trail. These journeys established Frémont as the “Pathfinder,” and set the stage for his public service as soldier and politician, including nomination as the Republican Party’s first presidential candidate. The exhibition objects include: a mountain howitzer that many believe is Frémont’s controversial “lost” cannon; archaeological cannon carriage parts from Frémont’s “lost” cannon; 1848 presentation sword from the citizens of Charleston, South Carolina; 1856 Frémont-Dayton presidential campaign flag; additional expedition artifacts; and contemporary photographs of expedition landscapes and campsites.
The exhibit was produced by the Nevada State Museum, Carson City and the Des Chutes Historical Museum, Bend, Oregon and made possible by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management offices in Oregon and Nevada, principal funding partners. The U.S. Forest Service also partnered in the exhibit.