Jim Bridger (1808-1881) was perhaps the greatest of the pioneers whom opened up America’s western frontier to white settlers. He claimed to have been the first white man to set eyes on the Great Salt Lake, although he initially mistook the lake for the Pacific Ocean. His own overland route to the South Pass was used as the basis for the Union Pacific Railroad. The size and possibility of the western expanses which Bridger roamed is reflected in his own rather tall tales. In one, he described a mountain made entirely of glass, which was surrounded by the bodies of hundreds of birds who had died flying into it. In another, Bridger recounted being pursued by one hundred Cheyenne warriors. Bridger and his posse were chased through a gorge until they suddenly arrived at the shores of a vast lake. The boys found themselves in desperate circumstances. They put up a brave fight, but were shot down one by one, until only Bridger remained. He faced the bloodthirsty Indians with only one bullet left in his gun…
“And what happened next, Mr Bridger?”
Jim always takes a long swig of whisky before replying.
“Why, they shot me and buried me by the lake…”