The Lewis and Clark Expedition was responsible for popularizing information about the American West, particularly the sightings of vast numbers of fur-bearing animals. John Jacob Astor, founder of the American Fur Company and the Pacific Fur Company, established a presence in Oregon in 1811 at Astoria. The fur trading companies relied upon the activities of the “mountain men,” individuals who spent long months in the rugged Rockies in pursuit of beaver and other prized animals. Prominent among these were such men as Jedediah Smith, Jim Bridger and Kit Carson. The mountain men impacted the American scene in a variety of ways. Their exploits fostered development of a thriving fur trade, but at the same time led to devastation of animal populations. Relations with Native Americans also was a mixture of good and bad - some mountain men maintained close relationships with the tribes, while others built their reputations on the number of natives they killed. Perhaps the most significant contribution made by these trappers and hunters was the geographical information they accumulated about the mountain region.