First edition. #15 of an edition limited to 550 copies, less than 408 of which reached private hands. Original cloth, vii-xcviii, 3-582 pp., i-viii, preface, introduction, "David Thompson's itinerary in North-Western America, 1785-1812", bibliography, index. Three fold-out color plates depicting Thompson's sketches of mountain ranges in Montana and British Columbia, 18 additional plates. 5 maps, 4 of which are large folding maps in pocket-at-rear. An Englishman, David Thompson came to Ft. Churchill on Hudson's Bay in 1784, at the age of 14. Employed by the Hudson's Bay Company as a trapper and trader, Thompson was as much interested in mapping and exploration as he was in fur trading. He became a wilderness man, exploring and trading throughout the Canadian West and the northwestern part of what is now the United States. He learned surveying and explored and opened routes between Canadian posts. In 1797, Thompson joined the North West Company, conducting a major mapping tour west of Lake Superior. He traveled throughout northern Minnesota, the Red River region, and what later became Dakota Territory visiting the Mandan Villages in January, 1798. In 1807, he crossed the Rocky Mountains and built the first trading post on the upper Columbia. Thompson thoroughly explored the Columbia River basin over the course of the next 4 years. He gave the name, via his French Canadians, to the Nez Perces, introduced firearms among the various tribes, and was very active for several seasons as trader, as well as explorer. In his continuing efforts to establish trade and locate new fur country, Thompson reached the mouth of the Columbia in July, 1811, where he found the Astorians in the process of constructing their post. He returned to Montreal in 1813, and one year later produced a map of truly exceptional importance. Of Thompson, the outstanding scholar Elliott Coues wrote in 1897, "(He) explored and charted an important and previously unknown region. Thompson was the first white man to follow the Columbia from its source to its mouth. Lightly soiled and with moderate wear else a near fine copy of this rare work.
Inventory Number: 42769