The popularity of the beaver hat had helped to create an enormous demand for beaver, which was the staple article of the American fur trade, but fashion changed, and the fur trade declined accordingly. An equally important factor in the decline of fur trade was the advance of settlement, for the trade in wild furs could not flourish on a large scale near farms. Finally, there was the depletion of the stock of beaver and other fur-bearing animals, hunted relentlessly for centuries; the square miles of beaver country were shrinking to acres. The era of the fur traders ended in the 1840s in the United States and S Canada, but only after the traders had contributed vast amounts of geographic knowledge and lore learned from the Native Americans to the benefit of both nations.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.