Mountain Men and the Beaver

Time: 2 Hours (Can Be Shortened)

Grades: 3-12


This field trip teaches students what happens when human history and conservation converge.  Students will learn about the life of mountain men, what it was like on the frontier, and how trapping impacted beaver populations.  This program features mountain man artifacts from the 1800s, artifacts from the beaver hat industry, and beaver biofacts.

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Mountain Men and the Beaver:

Like most of our on-grounds programs, the Mountain Man and the Beaver program includes an engaging educational lesson, hands-on animal biofact interaction, a fun activity, a specially themed scavenger hunt, and time for open exploration of the museum. Read below to learn more about each of these; remember, your program can be shortened to fit any time constraints.


Educational Lesson: 60 Minutes

Our Mountain Men and the Beaver program is a fantastic way to teach your students about the impact that humans and industry can have on animals and conservation! This program covers multiple aspects of one larger topic, the beaver hat industry. 

One aspect of this topic, that we will examine, is how the beaver hat industry led to the near extinction of the beaver in Europe! We’ll discuss how popular this fashion craze was, and what happened to the beavers because of it. 

Next, we’ll discuss how the collapse of the beaver populations in Europe led to wide scale trapping in the new world; this is where the mountain men come in. Your students will learn what it was like to be a mountain man in the 1800s. We’ll discuss their everyday life, the dangers they faced, and how they helped create the trails that were later used by immigrants. Your students will see beaver traps, mountain man clothing, weapons, and other artifacts from this important time period. 

Finally, we’ll discuss how this wide scale commercial trapping almost led to the extinction of the North American beaver, too. Your students will learn how a small fashion change in Europe (the move from beaver hats to silk hats) not only saved the beavers but ended the mountain man lifestyle! 

This field trip is unique and incredibly interesting! Request a program today! 


Activity: 20 Minutes

The Mountain Man and the Beaver program includes an engaging activity that reinforces the concepts that your students learn during the program.


Scavenger Hunt: 20 Minutes

The Mountain Man and the Beaver scavenger hunt will bring your students through the museum, looking for certain items that pertain to what they learned about in their lesson. This will include beaver pelts and mounts. Additionally, they will see different mountain men artifacts from the early 1800s! The scavenger hunts are completed in small groups or pairs.


Open Museum Exploration: 20 Minutes

While the scavenger hunt allows your students to see a curated selection of items within the museum, the open museum exploration time allows your students to explore whatever they are interested in. The Wyoming State Museum has so many topics (from dinosaurs to mining to pioneers to warfare to animals to Native American culture to national parks and more), that we find it is a great idea to give students free time at the end of the program to explore.

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