After a brief hiatus, Facial Hair Friday is back with a special Valentine’s week post!
When Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri wanted to encourage Americans to emigrate to the west as part of the Manifest Destiny movement, he decided that eyewitness descriptions of the landscape were necessary.
So in 1842, Benton sent off his son-in-law John C. Frémont as the head of a series of expeditions to survey and map the Oregon Trail to the Rocky Mountains.
It wasn’t Frémont’s first time surveying new territory. Frémont had been in the Corps of Topographical Engineers and later explored and surveyed the Des Moines River and the area between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
But this trip called for a special guide, and Frémont hired Kit Carson, the well-known mountain man and adventurer to lead the first expedition. After that, the men went on several expeditions into the Sierra Nevada and along the Oregan Trail.
And in a move sure to swell his father-in-law’s heart with pride and his fellow explorers’ hearts with jealousy, Lt. John C. Frémont also “discovered” Lake Tahoe on February 14, 1844, Valentine’s Day, putting the lake on a map for the first time.
You can read pages from Frémont’s report in the “Eyewitness” online exhibit.