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Napoleon May Have Visited the Gunnison Valley in 1815

Napoleon May Have Visited the Gunnison Valley in 1815

(Crested Butte) Deceased French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte may have visited the Gunnison Valley following his escape from exile on Elba and before his subsequent defeat at Waterloo on June 18 of that same year. On his way to Colorado in the company of French fur trappers from Quebec, the one-time Empereur des Francais may well have surveyed former French holdings recently sold to the upstart United States in 1803.

Emperor Napoleon takes a break during an early morning rabbit hunt in the spring of 1815.  (Joachim Murat Photo)

The visit, allegedly in the spring of 1815, was an attempt to lay low before returning to Europe to raise another army and march on Paris, which had fallen to his enemies in 1814. The visit was a short respite from recent defeats at Oporto, Talavera, Leipzig and Trafalgar and the disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812 where only 20,000 French soldiers, from an original force of 550,000, survived the campaign.

The totalitarian leader is believed to have either crossed the still frozen Lake Huron with his entourage or to have floated the Missouri before marching overland and linking up with the Arkansas or the South Platte. The exact route is impossible to determine since log books were written in French. After reaching what is now Colorado he crossed the mountains and visited lands to the west of his former territory that still belonged to Mexico.

Crested Butte: Did Napoleon hunt here in the 19th Century?


Rare cave drawings depicting a sullen man in a tricorne hat with his hand shoved into his coat have been discovered near Parlin. Archeological digs on Tomichi Creek have netted naughty French calendars, discarded skin-tight white riding breeches, empty bottles of Champagne and several Since You’ve Bourgogne cookbooks believed to have been the property of the Emperor’s fur trapping party.

The trek, which was completed in early spring, would have put Napoleon in the north end of the Gunnison Valley sometime between 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm on May 12. After a few days of elk hunting he then proceeded southeast to New Orleans where he set sail for France.      

“Had he been privy as to the outcome of the battle of Waterloo he might have stayed here in the Rockies,” added our source. “Arthur Wellesley (The Duke of Wellington) and Gebhard von Blucher, the renown Prussian general really kicked his ass on the battlefield there and he was imprisoned for the second time on the island of St Helena where he died in 1821.”

Born in Corsica August 15, 1769 Napoleon rose from obscurity to become one of the most successful and frightening military men on the planet. Despite well documented holidays in Egypt, Italy, Spain and Portugal and clear photographic evidence (see attached picture) historians, who probably still believe the world is flat, remain skeptical as to his visit to Colorado.

– Kashmir Horseshoe