James Beckwourth was a frontier explorer and guide whose adventures took him from the Florida Everglades to the Pacific Ocean and from southern Canada to northern Mexico. He blazed new trails and guided settlers and gold miners as they traveled west.
James Beckwourth began his adventures as a fur trapper in the Rocky Mountains. There he learned the skills that he would use for the rest of his life. Looking for excitement, he set out on the Santa Fe Trail for Colorado. In 1848 he headed west for California.
In 1850 Beckwourth discovered a path through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Soon he was leading wagon trains of settlers and gold miners west along the trail through the mountains.
Beckwourth is one of the few men of his time to write an autobiography. He dictated the story of his life to a friend in the gold fields of California. The book was a popular success with readers in the United States as well as in France and England.