Fork River Free Trappers

“Fork River Trading Post”

In the Spring 2001 the Fork River Free Trappers began their work on the trappers trading post it is located near their campsite down by the old mill stream at Historic Bowens Mills.

The Fork River Free Trappers group is part of the Michigan Brigade of the American Mountain Men, a national 1,200 member group dedicated to studying the history of the American fur trading era.

The Fork River Free Trappers take their name from the Thornapple River, called the Fork River by early settlers, after the Indian expression meaning "river of the two tongues." Their authentic encampment display includes only the most primitive of tools: carved wooden bowls for eating and canvas lodges for sleeping in. They also wear the traditional clothing typical of the mountain man era which stretched from about 1800 to 1840 when fur trading dwindled due to the introduction of silk from the Orient. This group has been very instrumental in several restorations at Historic Bowens Mills over the years, including replacing the roof on the Moe School House and many hours of work on the seventeen-foot water wheel that was completed in 1999 just 10 years after the passing of Neal H. Cook. First generation Miller.

"The Fork River Trading Post" will be a nice addition to the park, displaying the way that trappers it would have displayed their wares been during the fur trading era. The logs were donated to the historical park by a neighbor that was clearing their property.

In May, the Fork River Free Trappers spent time skinning the logs so they could dry.

Later in the summer they built the foundation and the floor and continued until they finished building the log walls.  In the fall they did all the chinking of the log walls and finished the roof. The building was completed and dedicated in October of 2002.

They will be using the trading post to display their furs, and hand made wares during the Mountain Men Encampment the first weekend in October, during the "It’s Cider Time Festivals."

The Fork River Free Trappers have been instrumental at the mill for a long time and have seen many projects completed over the years. They were especially supportive to the family after the passing of Carleen’s father in 1989.

Historic Bowens Mills Mountain Men & Colonial Encampment Weekend is co-sponsored by the Fork River Free Trappers with a authentic Mountain Men & Trapper living history encampment.  There will be live music, costumed craftsmen demonstrating and selling their works, along with horse drawn rides, water- powered cider making and cornmeal grinding demonstrations.

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