Louis Armand Baron de Lahontan (June, 9 1666 – 1715) was a French nobleman and military officer best known for his extensive, and quite possibly fictional, travels in the Wisconsin and Minnesota region and the upper Mississippi Valley. Lahontan became the Baron Lahontan upon his father's death in 1674. Around 1683, at around 17, he joined the Troupes de la Marine and was sent to New France or Canada. After leading several failed military campaigns against English and Iroquois fortifications around the Great Lakes, Lahontan and his troops integrated with the local Algonquin Indians with whom they lived for several years. During this time he, supposedly, spent much of his time exploring the region, including a supposed expedition on a river he referred to as the "Rivière Longue". Though many consider his tale fanciful, he claims to have followed the river for a reasonable distance to a mountain range. Beyond the mountains, he was told by his American Indian guides, lay another river that flows westward and has an outlet into a salt sea. There are many debates regarding this, some consider it an early reference to the Missouri - Columbia River network later explored by Louis and Clark. Others believe he stumbled upon an early description of the Great Salt Lake. Regardless, his narrative which was published in Europe proved enormously popular and encouraged a number of attempts to search of the Longue River, which it was assumed, was part of a river network extending to the Pacific. The River and other aspects of Lahontan's cartography found its way into numerous influential maps of the period before being ultimately abandoned in the late 18th century.

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