James Bridger was born on March 17, 1804, in Richmond, Virginia; he later moved to the St. Louis, Missouri, area with his family. There his parents both died.
Bridger became a famous scout, fur trapper, and hunter. He joined a fur company in 1822 and embarked on a great adventure. He explored the area now covering the current states of South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. In 1824 he became the first white man to see the Great Salt Lake as well as the geysers and other natural wonders now located in Yellowstone National Park.
Bridger built a stockade and residence in Uintah County, Wyoming, along the Black Fork of the Green River. He also married a Shoshone Indian and got along with both Indians and whites. He opposed the Mormon Pioneers and actually led U.S. Army troops into Utah during the Mormon War of 1858. He was instrumental in mapping the Oregon Trail and scouted for exploration parties and army expeditions. He died in 1881 in Washington, Missouri.