Rufus B. Sage (1817 - 1883) was born in Cromwell (later Middletown), Connecticut, the youngest of seven children. In his early years, Rufus became a printer and writer. Working for a series of newspapers between the mid-1830s and 1839 and moving progressively farther west into Ohio. In early 1840, Sage became a part of the successful Presidential campaign of William Henry Harrison, publishing several campaign newspapers.
Following the election, Sage's strong desire to explore the vast region beyond the Missouri frontier compelled him to organize a party to explore the west. Sage travelled west with his group and later joined a party of Indian traders. This period was later described in his famous recollections entitled Scenes in the Rocky Mountains. In July of 1844, he returned to Columbus and returned to his life as a writer and publisher.
Rufus Sage wandered in the Rocky Mountains from 1841 to 1843. He travelled extensively in the major fur trapping regions and associated with trappers, traders, Indians, hunters, and soldiers, becoming perhaps the single most well travelled literate man in the west prior to the Gold Rush in 1849. His writings are among the most important overland narratives. Sage set out from Westport in the summer of 1841 with a fur caravan, later visiting New Mexico, witnessing the disaster of the Snively expedition, and joining the end of the 1843 Fremont expedition.
He returned to Ohio in time to take a vigorous if not futile role in the election of 1844, supporting Henry Clay. He wrote his book in 1845. The story of the publication of this work and its subsequent sale is told by LeRoy Hafen in the introduction to the most scholarly edition of Sage, issued in two volumes by the Arthur H. Clark Co. in 1956. According to Hafen, the publishers of the original edition felt the addition of a map would cost too much, and, at the author's insistence, that a map was printed and sold with the book at a higher rate.