Kit Carson with background


Kit Carson on the Santa Fe Trail

John M. Carson, Park Ranger/Historical Interpreter, Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site

Apprenticed to a saddlemaker in Missouri for 2 years, 16-year-old Christopher (Kit) Carson concluded that “Business did not suit me, and having heard so many tales of life in the Mountains of the West, I concluded to leave him.” In 1826 at Fort Osage, Missouri, Kit was hired as a cavvy boy to help with the horses for a Santa Fe-bound wagon train. For the next 2 years, Kit joined east-bound and west-bound wagon trains, working his way up and down the trail. For the next 13 years, Kit was involved in the beaver industry and traveled throughout the Sierra Nevadas, Cascades, and Rockies. With the decline of the beaver industry, Kit worked his way to Bent’s Fort on the Santa Fe Trail where he was hired as company hunter in 1841. In 1842, he was hired as a guide and hunter for John C. Fremont’s western expedition; he accompanied Fremont on the first 3 of his 5 expeditions. Between 1842 and 1868, Kit regularly traveled both branches of the Santa Fe Trail in his many roles as guide, Indian agent, peace treaty delegate, and U.S. Army Officer. Join us to learn more about this American frontiersman and Western legend!

A graduate of Fort Lewis College, John M. Carson spent 25 years as a history teacher, mainly at La Junta High School, and as an Adjunct Instructor at Otero Junior College. Following this tenure, he was historian for the Taos Historic Museums for several years. Then, 13 years ago, Carson was hired as a National Park Service historical interpreter at Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site. The great-grandson of Kit Carson and widely regarding as a Kit Carson expert, John M. Carson has been interviewed for several documentary films on Kit Carson and the Santa Fe Trail, and he has supported many film projects in an interpretive role.

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