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Archive for Wednesday, May 9, 1990

MOUNTAIN MEN RE-CREATING HISTORY

May 9, 1990

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The riders guiding their mounts south of Lawrence on Tuesday are sticklers for authenticity.

These latter-day mountain men want things to be right which is not to say modern. They're trying to re-create the early 1800s, when other riders rode the trail west to find their fortunes in the fur trade.

The mountain men, who arrived in the area Monday, are retracing a 2,500-mile expedition that hasn't been traveled since 1840.

"I've always wanted to do something like this, and I just jumped on the bandwagon when I heard about it," said Bob Reher, a 1990 mountain man from Ord, Neb.

"We're trying to have everything like it was back in the early days," he said.

REHER AND nine other riders dressed in authentic mountain-man style are riding horses and camping along a route used by early American fur traders. The route, which later became the Oregon Trail, will take the riders nearly five months to complete.

"We've got a real simple route today," Jim Brookover, the group's leader said Tuesday. "We've had some delays with getting going this morning, but it will get faster as we move along."

Brookover came up with the idea for the trip while riding in the mountains of Wyoming about five years ago.

"I had a vision that there should be a re-enactment of this ride," he said.

"It took many months to plan the whole thing out, but as you can see there are a lot of guys who wouldn't miss this for anything."

BROOKOVER said he wanted to make the journey as authentic as possible. "We broke in about 18 mustangs for the trip," he said.

The mustangs are wild horses acquired from the federal Bureau of Land Management, and some domestic riding horses also are included in the riding party.

"We'll be riding the pen-raised horses up to Wyoming and we'll come back riding the mustangs."

The riders, who began the journey Sunday from Gardner, will travel about 25 miles a day. They will go northwest through Kansas and Nebraska, and west to Jackson, Wyo.

The riders hope to reach Jackson by July 11, where the Wyoming Sanctioned Centennial festival will be held.

After picking up several donated furs in Wyoming, the riders will begin the return trip to St. Louis. The riders expect to be back in the Lawrence area by mid-September, and arrive in St. Louis by the end of the month.

BROOKOVER said the group, which is moving on toward Topeka today, travels at an average speed of 3 to 4 mph. Each man rides a fully packed horse, which is followed by one or two other pack horses, all tied to each other.

"My wife always told me I was born 150 years too late," said Reher, who was an electrician before quitting his job to take part in the ride.

"Most of us quit our jobs to do it, but it will be worth it in the end."

Reher said he found out about the ride from a promotional flier that had been distributed by Brookover.

"Most of the guys heard about this from word of mouth, and they wanted to be a part of it," he said.

Reher said he was pleased with the reception the group has received from the public.

"People are really nice to us," he said. "They'll drive by and stop, and they get out their cameras and their camcorders and want to take our pictures."

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