One of the very few mountain men to
defy the 50-50 odds against surviving his first two years in the
wilderness, Fitzpatrick had spent 32 years in a West no one would
see again after the end of the fur trading era.
After fighting his way out
of numerous attacks and ambushes by hostile Indians, after
travelling tens of thousands of miles across a wild landscape on
foot and horseback, after surviving killing blizzards and desperate
hunger, this unassuming Irishman who had played a leading role in
setting the stage for the great migration of the 19th century by
discovering South Pass and opening the Oregon Trail, would die an
ignominious death - of influenza - in a hotel room in Washington
D.C., far from the few friends he had left in a world had had all
but disappeared in the blink of an eye.
(See profile in People)