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On July 3, 1889, a young Rudyard Kipling, just then observing, writing, and fishing his way across the United States, stepped from the train in Livingston, Montana, which he quickly judged to be "a grubby little hamlet full of men without clean collars and perfectly unable to get through one sentence unadorned by three oaths." But he loved the countryside, especially the Yellowstone River, which, "hidden by the water willows, lifted up its voice and sang a little song to the mountains." Later that day, as he was riding the park branch line south through Paradise Valley, a sympathetic stranger saw him eyeing the river and told him to "Lie off at Yankee Jim's if you want good fishing." Kipling could not resist.
"Yankee Jim" George ran a toll road through the canyon now named for him, at the south end of Paradise Valley, and did a brisk business with tourists on their way to and from Yellowstone Park. He also took in the occasional guest at his "log hut" overlooking the river. Kipling described him as "a picturesque old man with a talent for yarns that Ananias might have envied," but happily announced that he did not exaggerate the qualities of the river on those hot, sunny days.
Rudyard Kipling was on his way from India to England and was soon to become one of the planet's most celebrated figures. He may seem anything but a typical man of his time, but in one way he was. Among serious fly fishers, he would have pretty much represented the average guy, and his tackle would have revealed just how cosmopolitan that average guy was.
His rod was probably made of "Calcutta" bamboo from India, split and glued into an excellent casting instrument by one of many British or American rodmakers. His line was almost certainly silk from India or Persia, plaited to perfection in some European or American tackle factory. His leaders would have been silkworm gut from Italy, Sicily, Portugal, or (most likely) Spain. His flies could have contained feathers and furs from six continents, tied on Irish, English, or Norwegian hooks, in patterns representing several centuries of British fly-pattern theorizing.
Kipling demonstrated that quite early in what we now might think of as the "frontier days," fly fishing in the "Wild West" was facilitated by a global trade, numerous multinational industries, and the efforts of individual laborers, craftsmen, and artisans in a dozen or more countries. Even in Kipling's time, when you fly fished the West, you brought the world with you.