American Fur Company, a United States fur-trading company founded by John Jacob Astor in 1808. The company operated at first in the Upper Great Lakes region, trading with Canadian companies. In 1810 Astor organized a subsidiary, the Pacific Fur Company, which founded a post, Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia River. The plan was to carry otter skins to China, Oriental wares to Europe, and European goods back to the United States. A ship disaster and the War of 1812 forced the sale of Astoria to the North West Fur Company.
In 1817 Ramsay Crooks became a partner, and the American Fur Company established a Northern Department based at Mackinac Island. With a virtual monopoly on the Great Lakes trade, the company entered the trade on the upper Mississippi and Missouri rivers and in the Rocky Mountains. A Western Department, set up in 1822 with headquarters at St. Louis, absorbed the Columbia Fur Company in 1827, but met serious competition from the Rocky Mountain Fur Company in 1832. Beaver was becoming scarce. In 1834 Astor sold the Western Department to its St. Louis agent, the Chouteau company. The Northern Department, retaining the firm name, was bought by Crooks and remained in business until 1842.