Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Custer State Park

Our last day in Rapid City and we drove out to Custer State Park and the city of Custer.  Mia has often wondered why anyone would name anything after an egotistical person responsible for so many deaths.  Come to find out there is a valid reason.

In 1874, Lt. Col. Custer left Fort Abraham Lincoln in North Dakota with and expedition of 1200 troopers, an engineer, 80 civilians, a couple of miners, some newspaper correspondents, a botanist, geologist, Indian scouts and a female cook.  He took 1,000 horse, 300 head of cattle, 110 wagons, each pulled by six mules and several greyhounds.

The expedition was charged with entering the Black Hills to map, catalog and seek out a location for a new fort.  In addition, he was charged with looking for minerals and natural resources.  The expedition kept meticulous records and readings of points along the route.  This expedition occurred a quarter of a century after the discovery of gold in California.  The expedition discovered gold in amounts as rich as they could have dreamed of.

There were millions of American Buffalo in the plains states when Columbus discovered America.  Many of the plains Indians thought of Tatanka as the Great Spirit and many others only placed their God above him.  Tatanka provided everything that the Indians needed from hides for clothing and lodging to blood for soap and paints.  Nothing was left when an American Indian killed a Buffalo.  That wasn't the case when immigrants swept into the plains to satisfy the wants of others for the Buffalo tongue and hides.  They killed hundreds of thousands of Buffalo and left them to rot in the hot plains sun.  In a couple of decades they managed to almost kill the Buffalo into extinction.  Some conservation folks saw a need to save this resource and today, in Custer State Park, several herds wander the range and go pretty much where they want to go.

The park now keeps a herd of roughly 1500 head of Buffalo and each year sells off several hundred.  The blood line and free range Buffalo bring big dollars back to the park as the average sale price can be around $2500 each.  They are sold and transported to private herds all over the country.  Watching these animals free to roam the range is amazing.  Some of them are huge and while they are often docile they can turn on you.  They will get out of your way on their terms or turn and ram you.  We had one right in front of the truck.

Note the bird on his back in the center picture.

Other wild life is abundant as well.  

We drove into Custer and lunch at a bakery.  I had a very good hamburger while Mia had the soup.  And yes, I loved their buns.

There was a quilt shop in town but unfortunately it was closed.
We went into Rapid City and found two more quilt shops

Tomorrow we leave to return to Watertown.  We are not exactly certain where we will go from there.

Hope all is well and thanks for stopping by.

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