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Fur, Fortune & American Empire

We hear the remarkable history of how fur shaped a nation.

Buffalo hides in Dodge City, Kansas. Photograph April 4, 1874. (Kansas Historical Society)

For almost three hundred years, America ran on the insatiable demand for fur. From Pilgrim days, to mountain men, trappers, and buffalo hunters, it was an all-out grab for beaver, sea otter, bison.

Today, fur is out of fashion. It’s out, for many, even of moral acceptability. But back then, fur built fortunes, empires, nations.

We look at fur and the origins of North American empire.

-Tom Ashbrook

Note: This show was first broadcast July 19, 2010.

Guests:

Eric Jay Dolin, author of “Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America.” He also wrote “Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America.” You can read an excerpt. He’s a former program manager at the Environmental Protection Agency, and a former policy analyst at the Marine Fisheries Service.

Mac Burns, executive director of the Clatsop County Historical Society in Astoria, Oregon.

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