Walking West With Robert Campbell

Mile 0 — Cote Brilliante (Saint Louis)

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Cote Bril­liante, a French term mean­ing “bright hill” or “shin­ing hill,” is locat­ed near mod­ern day Sher­man Park close to the inter­sec­tion of North King­shigh­way Boule­vard and Nat­ur­al Bridge Avenue. This is the site from which Robert Campbell’s first jour­ney to the Rocky Moun­tains began.

We left St. Louis on the first of Novem­ber. It was wrong to start at that sea­son, because we had the win­ter to encounter. The ani­mals — most­ly mules — were pur­chased for the expe­di­tion in old Franklin Howard Coun­ty, then a great point of trade to New Mex­i­co. The mules were all shipped to St. Louis, and all our part mount­ed. Our camp was then at Cote Bril­liante, a beau­ti­ful grassy hill, six miles from the City, west of the Prairie House.”

Leav­ing Cote Bril­liante on Novem­ber the 1st, as Robert recalled, was a pre­car­i­ous time of year to begin such an expe­di­tion. How­ev­er, Robert had the good for­tune to be trav­el­ling with some expe­ri­enced Moun­tain Men. Men like Jede­di­ah Smith were the ones who would teach a young Robert Camp­bell how to trade and trap furs, and most impor­tant­ly, how to sur­vive the treach­er­ous West­ern winters.

Robert Camp­bells par­ty began their jour­ney trav­el­ling west along the Mis­souri Riv­er, stick­ing to the south bank. They would make many stops along the way, vis­it­ing ear­ly west­ern towns, and Native Amer­i­can vil­lages. Their final des­ti­na­tion was Cache Val­ley, where they intend­ed to meet up with the trad­ing ren­dezvous that was sched­uled to begin in 1826.

There are no known depic­tions of Cote Bril­liante from the 1820s, how­ev­er the images below high­light its loca­tion on the upper left side of some lat­er maps.

Map of Saint Louis, 1857
Map of Saint Louis, 1878