John C. Fremont exhibit opens

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John C. Fremont exhibit opens


Loren Irving

Shown at a historic Fremont campsite at Shevlin Park just west of Bend, what many believe to be the Fremont cannon is mounted on a replica carriage.

An exhibit on Western explorer John C. Fremont opened Wednesday at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City as part of the state's sesquicentennial celebration this year.

The Finding Fremont exhibit includes maps and artifacts from Fremont's Western expedition in 1843 and 44 when he earned the nickname "The Great Pathfinder." The legendary explorer's pistol and sword will be on display, along with the mountain howitzer that many believe was Fremont's infamous lost cannon.

Gene Hattori, the curator of anthropology for the state museum, says Fremont's legacy extends far beyond the West.

"John C. Fremont was arguably one of the most well-known people in the United States upon completion of his 1843-1844 expedition," Hattori explains. "And the release of his report in 1845 was actually viewed as popular reading, an adventure."

That 1845 report includes detailed descriptions and topographical maps from his passage across the Sierra Nevada. 

During Fremont's expedition, the explorer and his men were saved by Native Americans multiple times, including when Fremont discovered and named Pyramid Lake.

"They were actually a little bit protein starved," Hattori says, "and the Pyramid Lake Paiutes supplied Fremont with salmon trout, and these are what we know of today as the Lahontan cut-throat trout. He describes the salmon trout as being from three to four feet in length. He and his men feasted on the trout and the Paiutes took great joy in being entertained by these explorers."

Along with his explorations, Fremont served as a senator from California, was a Civil War general, and became the first Republican candidate to run for president.