The Revenant, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, has an interesting and pertinent relationship with The Iron Horse Chronicles. The movie dramatically tells of the hardships endured by the mountain men who hunted, trapped, and explored the western regions of the United States in the early decades of the nineteenth century. DiCaprio, as of the date of this posting, has won a Golden Globe Award and is nominated for an Academy Award for best actor. He convincingly plays a “revenant,” one who returns after death or a long absence.
Hugh Glass, the character DiCaprio portrays, probably suffered more than most of his mountain men compatriots. The stories that have been told about Glass for almost two hundred years, and there have been many and varied ones, describe a heart wrenching tale of injustice and revenge.
The R rated movie is based upon a 2002 novel by Michael Punke. Punke takes literary license with his telling and creates a more dramatic conclusion than probably occurred. I will not reveal how history books present the ending of the Glass saga. I recommend you see the movie and enjoy what I believe to be a realistic portrayal of the life of Hugh Glass and his fellow mountain men. Then, if you are interested, you can explore the bizarre ending that most likely happened.
In Eagle Talons, The Iron Horse Chronicles—Book One, I introduce Charles “Bullfrog Charlie” Munro, a mountain man who befriends young Will Braddock. Bullfrog helps Braddock learn about the wilderness and aids him in overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Bullfrog is 65 years old when he appears in Eagle Talons, where he reveals Jim Bridger gave him his name. Bullfrog may have been with Bridger on the expedition when Glass was attacked by the bear, but we will never know.
In Bear Claws, The Iron Horse Chronicles—Book Two, Bullfrog has his own disastrous encounter with a grizzly. I was aware of the Glass story when I wrote Bear Claws, but I had not read Punke’s novel, nor know about the planned movie. Will Braddock is with Bullfrog when he is attacked in Bear Claws. Later in the book, Will is mauled himself by a grizzly while leading a hunting expedition to the site of a mountain men rendezvous that took place about the time of the Hugh Glass incident.
In The Revenant, Jim Bridger was a young man when he was left behind with Thomas Fitzpatrick to bury Hugh Glass after he was expected to die. Bridger was still very much alive forty-five years later during the 1867 to 1869 time period of The Iron Horse Chronicles. Bridger does not appear personally in the trilogy, but in addition to relating that he and Bullfrog hunted and trapped together, Bridger Pass and Fort Bridger appear frequently in both Eagle Talons and Bear Claws. James Felix Bridger can justifiably be considered one of the greatest of the mountain men.
A wonderful place to learn about Bridger, Glass, Fitzpatrick, and other mountain men is the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale, Wyoming. Visit the museum’s website: http://museumofthemountainman.com/. Like so many outstanding places that expand our knowledge and appreciation of the exploration and development of the American West, it takes a little effort to get to Pinedale. Next time you are racing down Interstate 80 through Wyoming, make a side trip that will be well worth your time.
And be sure to read Eagle Talons and Bear Claws.