There aren’t enough appropriate words to adequately describe all the things “Mountain Men” has taught us so far. Since its premiere in 2012, the show has taken us to some of the most remote places of the US, giving us a deep insight into what it really means to live off the grid, especially the struggles and hard work the men and women who chose this lifestyle endure.
While many “Mountain Men” cast members have come and gone through the years, Eustace Conway was always a constant presence in the show until 2022, when his absence from the 11th season equally surprised and worried his fans.
So where is Eustace Conway right now? Is he just taking a break from the show or has he definitely retired? Stay with us to know all about his whereabouts and other interesting details about his life, such as his net worth, personal life and current business.
Where Is He Now?
The comeback of “Mountain Men” in September 2022 brought mixed feelings to its fans. On one side it was great to see such a loved show being renewed for its 11th season, but at the same time it was flabbergasting to realize Esutace Conway was nowhere to be seen, for the first time since the series’ premiere in 2012.
Although for now it’s not clear if Eustace’s absence is permanent, or if he’s meant to reappear later in the season, his journey as the so-called ‘Last American Man’ continues. Nowadays he’s very focused on his mountain-lodge business, offering retreats to passers-by and tourists in North Carolina. While he’s only occasionally present in the business, that’s usually Eustace’s choice, who according to reports, has in recent years also taken a step back from public life, even when it comes to his beloved Turtle Island Preserve.
Though such behavior is somewhat expected from such a mysterious and private person as himself, his Instagram account continuously updates his over 10,000 followers on his whereabouts. For now, that should be enough to calm his fans’ worries, but his future in “Mountain Men” remains unknown to the public.
According to online reports, Eustace Conway has an estimated net worth of $200,000. While that number is impressive for someone as committed to living a simple life surrounded by nature, the truth is that his fortune is partially resulting from his survivalist ways.
As reported by Business Insider, the salary of non-celebrity casts in reality, supposedly factual shows is usually $1,500 per episode during their early years on air, depending on a series’ popularity these numbers might increase as time passes. If we take this amount into account, it results in Eustace earning a few thousands per “Mountain Men” season since its beginning. On top of that, the affordable survival camps held on Turtle Island Preserve have been providing him with a small but constant income for around three decades.
Other than that, Eustace successfully owns his tourist lodges business in North Carolina, which has been popular enough to gain him five stars on its website in the course of a couple of years.
All in all, while Eutace Conway is in no way a millionaire, he has surely earned enough money through diverse means to sustain himself in times of real need.
Who Is His Wife?
If you’ve been paying attention to “Mountain Men”, you surely know that despite Eustace Conway’s popularity and skillful ways when it comes to outdoor survival, there’s apparently no woman in his life. While this is not a subject Eustace is very keen on addressing, his forever-single status is well known by those who have been following his story long before he debuted on TV.
Happy First Day of Spring! #MountainMen
Back in 1999, it was noted in an Outsider article that Eustace was dating Patience Harrison, a 20-something former elementary school teacher, whom he had met a couple of years before. However, while Harrison had apparently left her profession and permanently moved with Eustace onto Turtle Island Preserve, the relationship apparently wasn’t very blissful: ‘(she) is not ready for commitment, she doesn’t truly understand me’, confessed Eustace to journalist Florence Williams.
It’s unknown how long Patience and Eustace were together, but they eventually broke-up, and have kids together. According to Will Bahr from GQ magazine, in 2021 Eustace was still single, but felt that his goal of having a wife and kids wasn’t entirely lost: ‘That’s a journey that I haven’t really succeeded at, that I have set out on… I’d still be happy to have a family. That’s actually my greatest desire of all’, Eustace confessed back then.
What Is Eustace’s Business About?
Long before the idea of creating “Mountain Men” even crossed the mind of producers in the History channel, Eustace Conway was already something of a modern legend in survivalism. With a fame which included being featured in several articles, documentaries and having a book centered on his life, it’s understandably baffling that a man as committed to naturalism and environmental preservation as Eustace is, would start a business by himself.
However, as unexpected as it is, that’s exactly what he’s doing nowadays. According to his profile on a housing online service platform, he started his lodge renting business in 2019, using the money he saved from appearing in “Mountain Men”, but purposefully didn’t tell his followers about it, ‘just to prove that the unique, comfortable qualities of the homes themselves could succeed on their own without the celebrity status of my associated branding’, he revealed.
Apparently, everything in the lodges follows Eustace’s indoor preferences, as he not only crafted some pieces of furniture, but also fixed said houses by himself. His interior design skills spoke for themselves, achieving his goal of making people leave the lodges ‘more inspired with life possibilities’ compared to their arrival. All in all, his rental services are apparently thriving, and probably will continue doing so for a long while.
Was Eustace Replaced In The Show?
While it’s unknown to date if Eustace will be appearing in “Mountain Men”, the show has introduced us to a new face in the lastest seasons. We’re talking about Martha Tansy, who first appeared in the show in the 10th season, and promptly captured the audience’s attention for her top-notch hunting skills.
Serving five years in the Army prepared Martha for many things, though learning to survive in the wild is logically a constant battle for anyone. However, Martha has done well by helping her Athabascan community in the southern region of Alaska with her hunting skills.
Even though History channel lists Martha’s specialities as ‘sharpshooting’ and being an expert mechanic, the “Mountain Men”s audiences also have a glimpse of her most sensible side through her interactions with her daughter Elli, making a memorable mother-daughter survivalist team.
Needless to say, it’s too early to say Martha is Eustace’s replacement, but she’s surelywon the appreciation of the audiences in her own right.
What Is The Turtle Island Preserve?
More than just the average retreat camp, The Turtle Island Preserve is actually Eustace Conway’s life dream come true, or at least part of it. As described on its website, the preserve is his ‘brain child’ project, one he dreamed about in his earliest years, and which finally became true in 1987, when he established it with the help of a couple of friends, including the late Preston Roberts.
The Turtle Island Preserve, which according to GQ was named after the ‘legend of the turtle who carries the very earth on its back’, is located in North Carolina’s Southern Appalachian region, in land which he continuously kept expanding over the first two decades after founding the camp.
Hey friends – We're looking for a few more helping hands this weekend as we get ready for a new season. If you're interested in helping this Saturday and Sunday – please send an email to [email protected] Thanks! https://t.co/eaWObSy03O
— Turtle Island (@TurtleIslandNC) March 28, 2019
Now encompassing 1,000 acres of property, the Turtle Island Preserve makes an honor of its name by celebrating ‘lifestyle practices of earlier people from our great grandparent’s time, back into prehistory’ as read on the camp’s website. By arranging programs for people from diverse backgrounds and all ages, the preserve’s mission is to encourage them to embrace traditional practices now lost in modernity, such as harvesting, hunting and collecting in the relative wilderness, converting these natural items into either food or medicine. Other activities also included camping and building cabins with natural resources only.
Although it’s apparent that Eustace isn’t as present in the preserve nowadays as he was in the beginnings, Turtle Island is truly his biggest legacy.
What Happened To Preston Roberts?
The name Preston Roberts is surely known by anyone who’s been paying regular attention to “Mountain Men”. While Roberts wasn’t a constant presence in the show, most viewers might remember him for being Eustace’s loyal friend, a charismatic and quite resourceful man.
What most people might not know is that Roberts was hugely important for the Turtle Island Preserve. Not only was he a founding member, but he also took charge of many of the preserve’s activities for several years as a Camp Director, built lots of the lodges and cabins in Turtle Island, and successfully raised funds in favor of the Preserve by selling and auctioning his craftmade knives numerous times. Beyond being Eustace’s best friend and right hand, Roberts was a dedicated family guy married to Kathleen and father to three sons, and a committed art teacher.
Had a great time at the Horace Kephart Days rendezvous!
Unfortunately, in July 2017 Preston Roberts passed away surrounded by his family after a short battle against cancer, according to the statement released by his family: ‘(he) had a large inoperable tumor on his liver that obstructed the flow of blood and oxygen to his organs and body. The change was rapid and outpaced any treatment’, they wrote. In Turtle Island, a grave was engraved in his honor atop a hill.
Needless to say, Eustace Conway is a once-in-a-lifetime type of man and as such, it’s not surprising that his life story is quite fascinating. However, the reason Eustace is such a committed and legendary naturalist could be traced back to almost 100 years ago.
According to an extensive interview he gave GQ magazine in 1998, his World War I veteran grandfather established the first Boy Scouts program in North Carolina, soon continuing his legacy by founding in 1924 the “Camp Sequoyah for Boys” whose motto ‘where the weak become strong and the strong become great’ was taken to the extreme, educating young men in the art of survival.
Eustace’s mother Karen was raised in that camp, and followed her father’s lifestyle as well, which makes it unsurprising that her oldest son was left to roam free in the wild without much supervision. It resulted in Eustace being used to things most kids won’t ever imagine: ‘When he turned 12, he went into the forest alone and empty-handed for a week, making his own shelter and living off the land’, the article reads.
Despite holding degrees in English and Anthropology, Eustace’s travels around the world were motivated by his love for nature and discovering cultures, rather than for studies or money, making him one kind of fascinating person.
Features on Media
The first time the world got a hold of a small piece of Eustace Conway’s life story was in 1998, when GQ contributor Elizabeth Gilbert extensively interviewed him for the magazine, describing him as ‘… smart and fearless and believes he can do anything he sets his mind to, like saving America’, she wrote. That same year, the episode entitled “Adventures in the Simple Life” on the radio show “The American Life” accompanied Gilbert’s piece into making Eustace’s name known all around the country.
Furthermore, other media portals had to follow the trend, even if contacting the hardly approachable Eustace was a difficult task in itself. That being said, big media names such as The New York Times, Outsider and The Los Angeles Times featured several stories about Eustace for interested readers, who either admired Eustace or were thunderstruck by him.
Later in 2002, Gilbert’s book “The Last American Man” showed a deeper insight into who Eustace really is, ultimately setting his reputation as a legend of the mountains.
Career on TV
Despite being interviewed several times, Eustace’s first video feature didn’t come until 2003, when Jack Bibbo’s documentary “Full Circle: A Life Story of Eustace Conway” premiered. Later, in 2012, Eustace along with other outstanding naturalists were showcased in the “Reconvergence” documentary directed by Edward Tyndall and premiered shortly before History’s channel “Mountain Men” saw the light for the first time.
That being said, the fact that Eustace has been so extensively featured in the popular media doesn’t necessarily mean his story has been completely told. There are still huge parts of his philosophy, lifestyle and worldviews which aren’t as simply told, but it’s for sure that whether or not Eustace gets a chance to tell the world every single little thing about himself and what drives him, his legacy is tremendous enough as it is now.