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Smith, Jedediah Strong

Jedediah Strong Smith, 1799–1831, American explorer, one of the greatest of the mountain men, b. near Binghamton, N.Y. Early in 1824, Smith took a party through South Pass, beginning the regular use of that route. He and a few men headed north and into present-day Montana and as far north as the Canadian boundary before going back to Great Salt Lake. In 1825 he set out from Great Salt Lake on his most famous journey. Traveling southwest with a small band of men, he crossed the Colorado River and the Mojave Desert, arriving in San Diego, Calif., then part of Mexico. In 1831, Smith set out from St. Louis with a company on the Santa Fe Trail and was killed along the Cimarron River by Comanches. His wide travels opened not only the rich fur-trapping and trading country but also trails and territory that were soon frequented by westward-bound American pioneers. His journal was edited by Maurice Sullivan (1934).

See biography by M. Sullivan (1936, repr. 1972); study by J. G. Neihardt (1920, repr. 1970).

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