Excerpted from Holly Arnold Kinney’s “The Fort Restaurant Cookbook.”
The Mountain Man toast was a favorite of The Fort’s founder, Sam Arnold. To this day, we carry on the tradition he started by encouraging its recitation at every opportunity! On just about any evening at The Fort, you will hear it, getting louder as the toast progresses and those gathered around the table get more involved. The toast was written in 1988 after Sam’l and his fellow Western history friends were invited to lecture at Bent’s Old Fort. The group were all writers with a good command of early 19th century words and phrases. All they needed was a large pitcher of margaritas after a long day, and the Mountain Man Toast was born! Since then, it has traveled the world over, been printed and reprinted, and has gained a life of its own.
The toast teaches history in an entertaining way—and Fort guests are rewarded with a free drink if they memorize the words and hand gestures.
Try it for yourself by repeating the lines with the gestures in parentheses below. We’ve added translations at the bottom for your reference!
THE FORT’S MOUNTAIN MAN TOAST:
Here’s to the child’s what’s come afore (glass in right hand, held at shoulder)
And here’s to the pilgrims, what’s come arter (glass in right hand, arm extended)
May yer trails be free of griz (left hand over glass, making clawing motion with fingers)
Yer packs filled with plews (left and right arms extended, making a circle)
And fat buffler in yer pot! (glass extended, left hand rubbing/pointing at your belly)
WAUGH! (raise the hand with glass)
(Photo: John Slaughter)
Child: What the mountain men called one another.
Pilgrim: Lightly derisive term used by mountain men for the “sod-busting” covered wagon migrants traveling west.
Griz: Grizzly bear, a major cause of death for mountain men.
Plews: Large beaver pelts, originating from the French word “plus” (pronounced PLU). Extra- large pelts were marked with a plus sign and were deemed “plews” by the Americans.
Fat buffler in yer pot: Fat, tasty buffalo in your belly.
Waugh: Historic mountain man exclamation, meaning “cheers” or “right on.”