I spent a wonderful day working with the sixth grade class from Mahnomen Elementary school in western Minnesota the other day. Our subject: the Great Lakes Fur Trade.


The coordinator of the event gave me this kind comment: Thanks for everything mark! As always, the kids sure enjoy your visits.

Aimee Pederson

This was the display I set up.  Sixth graders need lost of visual aids
Another view of the visual aids, note the snowshoes toboggan, and stretched beaver hide.
Many of the items displayed I use–including the flintlock smoothbore.  It is a good example of the types of firearms traded to Native Peoples and is referred to as a Northwest Gun.  I have killed three deer with it and a number of grouse and grey squirrils.
A close up of my snowshoes.  they are Ojibway style and I use them almost every day during the winter months.  The toboggan is a modern one that has been modifies.  It is held together with rawhide strips.
This was a great group of kids!!  They were fun, engaged and asked a lot of questions!!

Getting ready for a canoe trip down the Mississippi River

Getting ready for our Monday canoe trip brought back memories of a brief time John Hayes, Dan Bergerson and I got to be on the Wabash River near Fort Ouiatenon, by Lafayette, Indiana. There was a time when Rivers were very important for transporting people and goods, and the bark canoe (including basswood and elm bark) were the mainstays for travel.  These photos were taken by frontier artist Steve White in preparation for a painting he was working on about Simon Kenton crossing the Ohio River.  Prints are available from Steve White’s web site.  Oh how the world has changed in so short a time!




Hunting grouse is a favorite thing with me, especially with flintlock guns. I shot this bird about mid morning with the help of my non-hunting dog Lily. The gun is a 24 gauge, .58 caliber flintlock smoothbore. The barrel has been shortened,making it easiter to carry in the woods, on horseback or in a canoe. I had this gun with me all last winter when I went out to feed deer, looking for snowshoe rabbits.

New Articles:

I just downloaded a number of articles to this website.  They are from a number of different magazines, including Muzzleloader, of which I am a staff writer.  All of them are germane to America’s early frontier history and Westward Expansion.  Just go to the menu bar and click on articles. Find the article that you want to read and click on it.  Be patient it might take a minute or two to download.

Published in Compass, the Boone Society’s quarterly!

In 2016 a number of historical interpreters took a 230 mile history tour, traveling the Boone Trace, the trail that Daniel Boone marked out in the spring of 1775.  It was trying, it was epic, it was emotional, it was educational.  I wrote a four-part series about our experiences for Muzzleloader magazine.  Thanks to Muzzleloader, the Boone Society is now reprinting the series.  I am honored to be on the cover of  Compass.  There is a twenty minute movie I made about the expedition that can be seen on this website.  Just click on America’s Frontier History Expedition in the menu.  The history of our nation is something that we should not forget or neglect!



I’m working on completing a flintlock pistol project that has been lagging for years now. It is not a copy of anything specific, but is just a nice .45 caliber “pocket-sized” pistol. There is still some final shaping to do, then the final staining and finishing. The pistol was designed and built by friend Eugene Shadley, I re-shaped the barrel, did some lock work and hopefully will have it finished within a week.


About a year and a half ago, I was given the privilege of examining, photographing and writing about a pair of pistols given to George Washington by the Marquis de Lafayette during the American Revolutionary War. I am pleased to say that the article is in this month’s issue of American Rifleman. This has been the most interesting writing project I have ever worked on. These pistols are indeed a national treasure, selling for close to two million dollars at an auction. They now reside in the Fort Ligonier museum, in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. The pistols stand out as a shining example of old world craftsmanship, but the meatier part of the story is about Lafayette and Washington. He (Lafayette) is one of the main reasons we were successful in the Revolutionary War. He became a national hero and years later visited the United States and went on a national tour. Sadly he is all but forgotten in these times. “Hands across time” is a concept I think of when examining an artifact. The artifact becomes a kind of touchstone to a past time period for me. I felt that connection keenly while examining those pistols. How quickly Americans for get their past heroes. See More



I am starting a new project this summer: a half-face shelter. They were usually the first dwelling erected when setting up a semi-permanent camp when traveling west.  I am using white cedar logs for mine, locally harvested.  There are a total of 30, some for the walls, some for the roof.  Friend Gene Shadley came over to help.  I will let these logs season for a while before I put up the shelter, about 8 by 10 feet in diameter.

logs for the three walls of the shelter

More to come images to come soon, having some web site issues–thanks for you patience!


Spent a great morning in the woods with some close friends testing our snowshoes and bindings. The snow was a foot and a half deep in some places, down about eight inches from a week ago. Spring is coming soon and we wanted to take advantage of some warmer weather (in the twenties.)  We found a great place for a future winter camp, kindled a fire using flint and steel, and had something warm to drink, saw a coyote and many many deer tracks.  We may snowshoe into the same place and camp overnight in the next week or so—maybe.  There is nothing like going out on snowshoes in the winter when the weather cooperates.  Our ancestors used snowshoes extensively in the early days of our frontier where the winters were cold and the snow deep.