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John James Audubon's Last Big Adventure

From Audio: Katie McKinney | John James Audubon's Quadrupeds of North America

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station description Leading scholars from across the nation introduce our small Tennessee town to artis... read more
Polk's America
Duration: 02:20
Katie McKinney tells the story of the artist Audubon's final trip west in search of specimens for the Quadrupeds of North America.
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Katie McKinney tells the story of the artist Audubon's final trip west in search of specimens for the Quadrupeds of North America.
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the project allowed Audubon to travel to the Upper Missouri River, where they could snag large game specimens like elk, buffalo and bear. It felt like the ultimate journey for the aging naturalists, who had watched with envy as other adventurers have made the trip. If there is this idea that there might be more species to find maybe large species, they might be found out west. Backman was skeptical about the route that Audubon plant on taking. He thought it was too well trodden by European and American settlers and recently published upon more generally. In 18 39 he wrote to Audubon that he might find it easier to accurately paint a buffalo in England than in the United States. Nonetheless, he supplied a list of specimens that he wanted them to collect and the types of behaviors he wanted them to record. Audubon put together a team that could help him hunt and collect specimens, including John G. Bell, a taxidermist who had leader trained Teddy Roosevelt. They set off from New York on March 11th, 18 43 and arrived in ST Louis on March 28th. From there, they traveled by Steamboat up the Missouri River towards Sport union from their steamboat, the Omega. They observed animals and birds as they passed. Sometimes the ship would take breaks, giving the team the opportunity to hunt and collect specimens. After traveling on the Omega for 49 days, which was a record for the time, the team arrived at Fort Union at the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers around what is now the border between Montana and North Dakota. On June 12, they stayed at the fur trading post for two months. It was here, but they did see some larger animals like wolves, which were massacred with relish at dawn and dusk, when the creatures came to the gates of the fort, looking through garbage for food wolves for pests that were to be hunted. The team also set off on almost daily buffalo hunts, recording but mostly enjoying the thrill of the chase and the slaughter. They departed Fort Union on August 12, having spent an enjoyable two months of hunting and arrived in ST Louis on October 19th, Audubon finally returned to Minnie's Land on November 6th, 18 43. Audubon's final big adventure took him northwest to the fort Union trading post near what is today the North Dakota and Montana Border Fort Union was established to facilitate trade with Native American tribes such as Theus, Cinnabon, the Crow, Cree, a Jib Way and others. Throughout his travels, John Audubon encountered Native Americans and recorded his meetings in his journal.
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