Hornaday’s taxidermy project of six buffalo

Hornaday’s taxidermy project of six buffalo

William Hornaday’s famous six-buffalo masterpiece in huge glass case set a new standard for Smithsonian Museum taxidermy in 1888. During their 70 years in Washington, Hornaday’s big bull that he’d shot himself, became the model for several national symbols. Coins and paper currency, the Great Seal of the Department of the Interior, postage stamps and the National Park Service badge all bear the likeness of his big bull in the Hornaday Collection. Photo from The Extermination of the American Bison.

Returning to Washington, after their great success in buffalo hunting, William Hornaday and his assistants set to work.

Hornaday’s vision developed before he even left Montana. This would be a grouping of bulls, cows and calves. He took time to collect some native soil, a few plants and sagebrush.

He selected six prime specimens—his masterpiece stub-horn bull, cows, calves, a young bull.

After a full year they unveiled their masterpiece. There, in a huge glass case, visitors to the Smithsonian Museum viewed an enchanting scene–six buffalo in an authentic Montana setting.

The Washington Star described the exhibit on March 10, 1888:

“A little bit of Montana—a small square patch from the wildest part of the wild West—has been transferred to the National Museum. . . The hummocky prairie, the buffalo-grass, the sagebrush, and the buffalo.

“It is as though a little group of buffalo that have come to drink at a pool had been suddenly struck motionless by some magic spell, each in a natural attitude, and then the section of prairie, pool, buffalo, and all had been carefully cut out and brought to the National Museum.

A triumph of the taxidermist’s art.”

It was a sight Hornaday fully expected no one would ever see again in life.

Secretly he hid a message voicing his despair for the species in a small sealed metal box in the Montana earth of the Smithsonian display.

Discovered nearly three-quarters of a century later when the exhibit was moved to Montana, curators read Hornaday’s heartfelt plea:

It read, “My Illustrious Successor, Enclosed please find a brief and truthful account of the capture of the specimens which compose this group. . .

“When I am dust and ashes I beg you to protect these specimens from deterioration and destruction.  —W.T. Hornaday, Chief Taxidermist, March 7, 1888.”

Hornaday’s famous six-buffalo masterpiece in its huge glass case set a new standard for Smithsonian Museum taxidermy in 1888.

During their 70 years of prominent display in Washington, Hornaday’s big bull, that he shot himself, was the model for several national symbols and government issues.

Coins and paper currency, the Great Seal of the Department of the Interior, postage stamps and the National Park Service badge all bear the likeness of the big bull in the Hornaday Collection.

In 1955 the group was dismantled. shipped to Montana, separated, and placed in storage.

Seventy years later, during the 1950s the pieces were shipped to Montana and separated, when Hornaday’s plea was found hid in a metal box in the soil. Refurbished in the 1990s, all six bison came together again and now stand on a pedestal in the Montana Agricultural Center and Museum in Fort Benton. A shrine to the buffalo’s loss and rebirth and the group’s dispersion and reunion. Photo by Montana Historical Society.

After years of neglect the mounts were completely restored and returned to public display in 1996.

Refurbished, all six finally came together again and are exhibited in their original poses and positions just as they appeared in the Smithsonian.

They now stand on a pedestal in the Montana Agricultural Center and Museum in Fort Benton. A shrine to the buffalo’s loss and rebirth and the group’s dispersion and reunion.

But with his masterpiece in the Smithsonian Hornaday was not finished.

During that same year in 1887, he took on the task of writing what he expected might be the last word on the iconic buffalo—a report of its history and how the species came to be exterminated—which was published in the Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for the Year of 1887.

Convinced this might be the final report on the buffalo, he wanted to get it right.

With characteristic thoroughness Hornaday interviewed and contacted every possible source with buffalo know-how—from riverboat captains, to military officers on far-flung army bases, fur traders and railroaders, to explorers, ranchers and cowboys.

His report was over 200 pages long. Two years later in 1889 it was published as a book “The Extermination of the American Bison: With a Sketch of its Discovery and Life History,” by the Government Printing Office.

Then Hornaday discovered a future in living buffalo—and never looked back.


Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Hornaday’s Buffalo Hunt for the Smithsonian

Hornaday’s Buffalo Hunt for the Smithsonian

Small bands of buffalo the Smithsonian party found hiding in remote canyons in the Missouri River Breaks were extremely wild. Many carried old bullets of various sizes within their bodies. NPS.

By 1883 the vast herds of buffalo had entirely vanished. Only a small pocket survived here and there in remote areas—and even these, as soon as any hunter learned of them, did not last long.

Clearly the buffalo would soon be extinct as a species.

Alarmed, William Hornaday, as the Chief Taxidermist at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC—America’s greatest museum—took stock of his museum’s buffalo inventory.

 He was shocked to find only a few old, dilapidated buffalo hides, one poorly mounted female, a couple of heads and some bones.

He knew what he had to do: gather some decent buffalo carcasses for his museum so that long after the species became extinct, at least there’d be mounted buffalo to view in the nation’s most important museum.

And since other prominent museums would doubtless want relics of the soon-to-be-extinct mammal—and he could help them—he wanted at least twenty to thirty skins, plus skeletons and heads.

Now, he thought, Americans in later generations would be able to see the great mammal that had once populated America by the millions. It would be too late, of course, and they’d need to travel, but they could visit—albeit only in great museums—the magnificent buffalo that had once grazed the Plains in abundance.

He pleaded with Smithsonian officials to let him go out west where he might find some buffalo and bring back dead carcasses.

Appalled at his report, they agreed to send him at once to find wild buffalo, if any were still living, and bring back specimens.

Research told him there might be some buffalo still in the rugged Missouri River Breaks of Montana.

Hornaday hoped to bring back sixty to eighty specimens if at all possible. At this point, as a taxidermist, dead buffalo were all he wanted, so their skins could be preserved and mounted.

So on May 6, 1886, William Hornaday and two or three assistants set forth by train to Miles City to launch their own last buffalo hunt.

In Miles City they picked up horses, provisions and an Army escort from Fort Keogh and headed north.

Nearly everyone they met declared all the buffalo were gone from central and eastern Montana.

But they kept going, chasing rumors from distant cow hands.

Hornaday’s party finally found its way into the rough badlands near the head of the Little Dry in the Missouri River Breaks.

There they discovered and captured a lone, lost buffalo calf. Ten days later they found a couple of bulls. They shot one and realized he was shedding his winter coat, leaving the hide so tattered and seedy looking it could not be mounted.

They decided to wait till fall for hides in prime winter condition. After Hornaday beseeched local ranchers to spare their intended targets, they took the live calf and returned with it to Washington.

In late September they returned to the same remote badlands, some 135 miles northwest of Miles City.

It was “Wild and rugged butte country, its sides scored by intricate systems of great yawning ravines and hollows, steep-sided and very deep, and badlands of the worst description. Such as persecuted game loves to seek shelter in,” wrote Hornaday.

In two months of hard riding they did find a few small bands of extremely wild stragglers—a lone buffalo bull here, two or three cows with calves there. Seven in one bunch.

By this time they had ten saddle horses and the help of a few soldiers from Ft. Keogh.

Splitting up, they rode twenty-five miles or more each day in different directions. Searching out “the heads of those great ravines around the High Divide . . . [where] the buffalo were in the habit of hiding.”

They eventually killed twenty-two buffalo—bulls, cows and calves. Not the number Hornaday hoped for, but a raging November blizzard with bitter cold cut short their hunt.

Hornaday felt pleased with the big bull he shot himself. “A prize! A truly magnificent specimen. A ‘stub-horn’ bull, about eleven years old. His hair in remarkably fine condition, being long, fine, thick and well colored—sixteen inches in length in his frontlet.”

His bull stood a full six feet tall when they added the four-inch hair on the hump, two inches taller than their next largest bull.

In length, he was nine feet-two-inches, head to tail. In circumference, eight-feet-four around the chest just behind the foreleg.

The bull had been shot several times before. Within the carcass he carried four old bullets of various sizes, as did nearly every bull they killed in those hidden canyons.

All the buffalo were extremely wild.

Regretfully, Hornaday lamented that if the buffalo had been that wild during their heyday, surely more would have survived longer.

However, his hunt was a success. He and his assistants prepared their hides for shipping and headed back to Washington to spend the next year in a great taxidermy project he envisioned for the Smithsonian.

At that point Hornaday could have rested on his laurels, but fortunately for us, he did not.

Instead, he spent the rest of his life fighting for the conservation of buffalo.

No longer satisfied with carcasses, he developed a vision for living buffalo—a way they could be kept safe in parks and public lands across America.

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Sam Walking Coyote’s Buffalo calves

Sam Walking Coyote’s Buffalo calves

Samuel Walking Coyote of the Pend d’Oreille tribe had no intention of raising buffalo—he just wanted to hunt them. But there were no buffalo west of the Continental Divide where he lived with his Flathead wife on her reservation in western Montana.

Yet Walking Coyote yearned to go buffalo hunting with his friends the Blackfeet across the Rocky Mountains to the east where plenty of buffalo still lived.

In the fall of 1872 he rode east on an old Indian trail the long distance across the Rocky Mountains, with perhaps a friend or two, winding through what would later become Glacier National Park.

There on the open Plains of Montana they spent the winter hunting buffalo with a band of Blackfeet.

On one hunt 8 orphaned buffalo calves attached themselves to their horses and followed them into camp, eating hay with the horses.

Over that winter Walking Coyote fell in love with and married a Blackfeet woman, conveniently forgetting his Flathead wife, according to David Dary in The Buffalo Book. (Note: there are several versions of this story, but this is perhaps the best-known.)

Next spring he wanted to return to the Flathead reservation. He knew that having two wives was permitted by his tribe, but not by the Jesuit Fathers at St. Ignatius Mission. His friends convinced him that a nice gift might put him right with them.

They speculated that a gift of 8 buffalo calves would likely gain favor with the Fathers.

So Sam and his new wife set out on the long trail back across the Rocky Mountains, taking the buffalo calves, as well as leading a string of pack horses. The trail was hard and rugged, up and down steep mountains, slippery with melting snow, rushing torrents, mud slides and fallen timber often blocking their way.

To cross some hazardous spots they tied the youngest calves on pack horses. Finally, after many days and dangerous struggles they reached the Flathead Mission with 6 calves, two having died along the way.

Unfortunately, his gift was rejected. Punished and banished from the tribe, Sam and his Blackfeet wife left the Mission and moved farther up the Flathead Valley, still using the free range permitted to Native Americans on the Flathead.

There the six yearling calves thrived and grew on rich grasses and browse, even though mountains on the west side of the Continental Divide were not the natural home for Plains Buffalo.

The Native community grew committed to the little herd’s survival, writes Ken Zontak in Buffalo Nation: American Indian Efforts to Restore the Bison.

“Every Indian in the valley, believing these to be the last ones, aided in their protection,” he wrote. “Always there was in Indian rider in their vicinity.”

By 1884, Sam Walking Coyote owned 13 fairly tame buffalo. But they were becoming a problem. Hard to control, they broke down his neighbors’ fences and destroyed crops and gardens. He finally decided to sell them for $2,000, providing he could get it in gold coin.

Charles Allard and Michel Pablo, neighboring ranchers in the valley, pooled their funds and together came up with his price—in gold. Both were also part Native American.

They purchased 26 additional buffalo from Buffalo Jones of Kansas. By 1895 their herd numbered 300. It was destined to grow enormously.

But the next year Allard died at age 43, and his half of the herd was dispersed to several buyers, some going to Yellowstone Park.

Pablo kept his 150 head, which had doubled again by 1906, when he learned the Flathead reservation was opening to homesteaders and he’d lose his free range.

He offered to sell his buffalo to the US government for $200 each to replenish the Yellowstone Park herd. President Theodore Roosevelt favored the idea, but Congress balked at the price, suggesting $15 a head was plenty.

 Ultimately, these were the buffalo that Pablo sold and shipped to the Canadian government over the next six years. They were challenging years for him, rounding up the half-wild animals, getting them to the railhead and loading them onto fortified railway cars. But he was paid the handsome sum of $200 each plus freight costs, even for newborn calves. By then they had multiplied to 716 head.


Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Wild European bison will roam free in England

Wild European bison will roam free in England

European Bison

Plan is to revive forests and historic species

Wild bison will return to the United Kingdom for the first time in thousands of years, with the release of a small herd near Canterbury in East Kent planned for spring 2022, according to the Guardian, July 10, 2020.

The Steppe Bison went extinct about 10,000 years ago. Now the UK is bringing back their nearest relative—the European Bison or Wisent (Bison bonasus), also known as the zubr—in the hope of restoring the area’s ancient woodlands.

The $1.4 million Wilder Blean project, to reintroduce the animals, will help secure the future of an endangered species. They will also naturally regenerate a former pine wood plantation by killing off trees. This is expected to create a healthy mix of woodland, scrub and glades, boost insect, bird and plant life.

Populations of the UK’s most important wildlife have dropped an average of 69% since 1970. Britain is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, despite the best efforts of conservationists.

Paul Hadaway, from Kent Wildlife Trust, said: “The Wilder Blean project will prove that a wilder, nature-based solution is the right one to tackle the climate and nature crisis we now face. Using missing keystone species like bison to restore natural processes to habitats is the key to creating bio-abundance in our landscape.”

Bison kill selected trees by eating their bark or rubbing against them to remove their thick winter fur. This creates a feast of dead wood for insects, which provide food for birds. Falling dead trees also create sunny clearings in deep woods where native plants can thrive.

The trust expects nightingales and turtle doves to be among the beneficiaries of the bison’s “ecosystem engineering.”

The European bison is the continent’s largest land mammal and bulls can weigh as much as a ton. “They’re enormous,” said Stan Smith of Kent Wildlife Trust. “But what is amazing is how they blend into their background and they’re quite docile really.”

The bison will not be given extra food or artificial shelters, though their health will be monitored by observing their coats and examining their dung. “We need to keep them as wild as possible [for the project to succeed],” said Smith.

Once the bison are settled, the public will be able to visit the area with rangers and watch the animals from viewing platforms.

In the Netherlands, where bison projects have been running for 15 years, people walk through the areas without incident. Free-living longhorn cattle, “iron age” pigs, and Exmoor ponies will also live alongside the bison and assist in restoring the woodland.

“The partners in the Kent project have long dreamed of restoring the true wild woodlands that have been missing from England for too long,” said Paul Whitfield, of Wildwood Trust, the native species conservation charity that will ensure the welfare of the bison. “People will be able to experience nature in a way they haven’t before, connecting them back to the natural world around them in a deeper way.”

Smith said there is no intention to introduce predators such as wolves. As the herd grows in size, they will move some animals to other sites in the UK. But, he said, “if we absolutely had to, we would cull animals as a last resort.” There are already a small number of European bison in English zoos and wildlife parks, but they are not free-living.

“This initiative could be good news for Britain’s battered biodiversity,” said Rebecca Wrigley, of Rewilding Britain. “It’s increasingly clear that bold and imaginative rewilding is urgently needed to tackle the country’s worrying loss of wildlife.”

She said far more needs to be done across the UK to reintroduce large herbivores and “unleash their biodiversity-boosting rewilding magic.”

Smith said: “Sometimes in the rewilding debate people think that it’s a look back to the past, but that’s not what we’re about. We’re about trying to find the right natural solution for the modern world.”

Describing European bison as “ecosystem engineers,” the Kent Wildlife Trust, one of the conservation organizations leading the project, said the bison species can “change woodlands in a way that no other animal can.”

 “They eat bark and create dust baths which each have benefits for many plants and animals,” the trust added. “These are functions that have been missing from our UK woodlands for thousands of years and bringing them back can help restore an abundance of wildlife.”

 The breed is the closest living relative to ancient steppe bison, which once roamed Britain.

Herds were established from zoo-bred animals in Belarus, Poland, Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine. Ub 1927 fewer than 50 were left—all of them in zoos.

 Beginning in 1951 they were reintroduced to the wild. Free-ranging herds are currently found in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Latvia, Switzerland, Kyrgyzstan, Germany, and in forest preserves in the Western Caucasus. The Białowieża Primeval Forest, an ancient woodland that straddles the border between Poland and Belarus, continues to have the largest free-living population in the world with around 1,000 wild bison counted in 2014. Currently they are classified as a vulnerable species.

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Photographer nearly trampled to death

Photographer nearly trampled to death

View of cowboys on horses chasing bison out of the pine trees, with white cliffs across the Flathead River in the background. Forsyth used dual cameras to shoot these stereographic scenes. Montana Historical Society.

One of the men attracted to Michel Pablo’s grand roundup of his near-wild buffalo was Norman A. Forsyth, a young photographer who began selling stereo cards and viewers door-to-door while attending college at Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska.

After college he moved west, still selling for Underwood and Underwood, an early producer and distributor of stereographic views. Attracted by the scenic beauty of Yellowstone Park, Forsyth worked as a tour guide and stage driver in Yellowstone five summers, taking scenic stereographic views along the way, and then set up a photography studio in Butte where he sold them.

Fascinated by what he read of Michel Pablo’s great roundup of near-wild bison he took his cameras to Ronan, MT. There he made friends with Charlie Russell, a cowboy painter also attracted to the dramatic buffalo action they saw every day.

Forsyth shot stereographic views and Russell painted and sketched numerous scenes over the first three summers during which the Pablo buffalo roundup shipped most of the animals to Canada. 

One day Forsyth scrambled down into some trees to get the perfect shot as the cowboy wranglers brought in a herd of buffalo across the river toward the corrals.

The Wainwright, Alberta, newspaper reported Forsyth’s near brush with death as the buffalo herd leaped up out of the river and charged directly toward him.

“The entry of the buffalo into the corral came nearly being accompanied by a regrettable fatality.

“Mr. Forsyth, an enterprising photographer from Butte, Montana, being anxious to get some photos of the animals in the water, had stationed himself at a point of vantage amidst a clump of trees close to one of the booms in the river where he judged he would be out of path of the oncoming herd.

“However they chose to take the bank directly below where he was standing, and before he could reach safety they were upon him in a mad, irresistible stampede.

“How he escaped being trampled to instant death is a miracle which even he cannot realize.

“He has a recollection of the herd rushing upon him and of having in some way clutched a passing calf which he clung to until it passed under a tree.

“He then managed to grasp a branch and although he was unable to pull himself up out of danger he was able to keep above the feet of the plunging herd.

“His dangling legs were bruised and cut by their horns and his clothes torn to shreds, but he still clung to the limb for life.

“Twice the herd passed under him as they circled back in an attempt to escape, but fortunately before he became exhausted they rushed into the corral.

“The Canadian Pacific officials and riders who knew the location chosen by Forsyth shuddered when they saw the animals rush in there and expected to find his body trampled out of semblance in the clay.

“Consequently, they rejoiced to find the luckless photographer slightly disfigured, but still hugging his friend the tree in his disheveled wardrobe.”

As the buffalo stampeded up out of the trees and into the corral, the cowboys rode to his rescue.

Scratched, bleeding and with his clothing ripped apart, Forsyth dropped out of the tree.

On the ground were his two costly cameras that shot dual picture stereographs, both shattered into many pieces and trampled in the mud.

He greeted his would-be rescuers with a sheepish grin, saying, “I think I have had enough of buffalo!”

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Bud Cotton and his Buffalo Roundup Gang

Bud Cotton and his Buffalo Roundup Gang

This photo illustrates the difficulty of trying to chase buffalo where they don’t want to go, especially when all run in different directions. Bud Cotton’s Buffalo Roundup Gang rode hard and bore “scars and sore bones” from the “good old days” of roundup. Montana Historical Society.

E.J. (‘Bud’) Cotton was the Buffalo Park Warden at Wainwright, Alberta from 1912 through 1940. An old-fashioned buffalo handler who rode hard and worked his crew hard, he preferred to change their lathered-up horses at noon if at all possible.

Cotton hired a hard-riding Buffalo Roundup Gang—as he called them for “fall” roundup, which they tackled in stride during the coldest days of winter.

Long before the advent of low-stress handling practices were being advocated for buffalo, the buffalo herds were literally wild animals, and they came stampeding between the drift fences toward the open gate at a dead run.

Cotton said his corral fences looked strong enough to hold an elephant “but just stick around until we run a bunch of buffalo into them, then watch the splinters fly!”

When worked, the thousands of buffalo they corralled and manhandled bore some scars—but so did the riders, he wrote. Even years later the men “still bear scars and sore bones as mementos of those same good old days.”

Roundup days for buffalo, unlike on cattle ranches—where the herd was rounded up, steers sorted off and sold in the often-delightful golden days of fall—happened during the coldest days of winter, when buffalo hides were prime.

As Cotton explained the differences: “With cattle we did not worry about just how prime the hides were. Down on the big cattle ranches—roundups for beef were pretty well all finished up by the time snow hit us. But then with cattle we did not worry about just how prime the hides were.

“With the buffalo it’s different, as both beef and hide count, and the buffalo’s hide is not considered prime until about December or later. This hide, when prime, makes beautiful robes and coats. That is why you will hear of riders hitting the roundup trails in 40 below zero weather, right up to their necks in snow banks.”

At Wainwright thousands of buffalo were rounded up each fall—from their 200 square-mile pasture bordered by 9-foot-high fences.

“Buffalo we had corralled, branded and manhandled by the thousand bore some scars and brands—but then the riders still bear scars and sore bones as mementos of those same good old days!”

“Bert Kitchen should still show some scars. We happened to be heading fast through a narrow draw on the high lope, eight riders strung out head to tail, trying to head off a bunch of break-away buffalo.

“Bert was in the lead when his horse went down, some of our horses jumped over him and some just walked down his lanky frame. Our horses were all shod with ‘never-slip’ or Spade Caulks.

“We all sighed ‘Poor Bert,’ but by the time we had circled back to the rescue, Bert had picked himself out of the snow and was mounted again, and mumbled something about how he had busted his cigarette lighter.

“[One morning] the riders had picked up about 2,000 buffalo in west hills and we figured we had them safe as we headed them for the Jameson Lake Gate, only about a mile away.

“George Armstrong trying to head a bunch of break-away buffalo raced out on one of the ice-covered bays of the lake.

“Then PLUNK… horse and rider were in the lake’s icy water. Everybody to the rescue! Ice covered lariats dragged George and his horse out of what could have been an icy grave.

“Ten below that day and George was kinda stiff in his crystalized clothes by the time he got to a warm fireside. However, he was out again the next day as we continued the roundup.

“Blake Sharp and his pinto pony disappeared in a milling herd of buffalo one day as we were corralling…

“He lost his Stetson and Pinto was somewhat wobbly as the buffalo unscrambled and let them see daylight once more… As Blake said, ‘It could have been worse!’”

Cotton told his riders that if their horse left them afoot, they should climb to the top of the nearest butte and “we’ll come back and pick you up later. Once we start the buffalo running we can’t leave them till we hit the corrals… Your horse will be running with us.”

“Jack Johnston was on our Riding Crew. He raced his buckskin pony ahead to open a gate for us, but apparently the buffalo were coming just too fast. Guess about 20 head of buffs ran over him. Lucky though, they were light ‘shippers’ so Jack was able to keep his date down Greenshilds way that night.

“Dick McNairn rode with the roundup crew for many a winter and could tell you tales of fast running buffalo and cold miles of saddle polishing. Dick riding hard and close, trying to haze in a big grumpy buffalo bull on one of our roundups.

“Down goes his horse in a slitherin’ roll, the bull whirls and stands there looking Dick right in the eye. Dick was pinned down by one leg as the horse rolled, but he looked that old bull in the eye. The bull snorted and loped away just as we were riding up to unscramble one lone rider.

“Hi Dunning tied onto a balky buffalo cow and hitched her hard and fast onto his saddle horn. Now a buffalo cow is not bashful and sure is active. Things started to happen fast!!

“First his saddle cinch loosened and the saddle started to turn. About that time his horse just didn’t like the looks of the buff cow so close and hooked one hind leg over the taut rope and started to buck.

“Hi was sure in the middle of trouble with no hope of getting that hard knot from the saddle horn.

“However, Warren Blinn rides in close and cuts Hi’s new rope, thus leaving Hi and his horse free from the now thoroughly peeved buffalo.

“Still Hi was uncertain whether to bless Warren for saving him from a real dirty mix-up, or to cuss him for cutting his brand new Italian hemp lariat!

“Generally, we had about 12 regular riders on the roundups. We always looked forward to the times that the Gang rode together.

“Taking hard knocks, broken bones and bitter cold weather as a matter of course, our riders came back year after year, because there was something fascinating and a surging exhilaration that only the Buffalo Riders will ever know.

“Only these riders experienced the thrill of careening over an open Range for miles with 5,000 to 8,000 buffalo thundering along in flying dust of snow clouds.

“Park Regulations prohibited any visitors on our roundup drives, so we the Crew rode alone to sights and scenes that we will never forget.
(Excerpted from an article in “Buffalo Trails and Tales: Wainwright and Districts,” written by Bud Cotton, Buffalo Park Warden at Wainwright, Alberta, 1973.)

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

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