Austin Corbin Park

Austin Corbin II
July 11, 1827 – June 4, 1896

His life – New England Historical Society

1888 Mr. Corbin conceived the idea of placing buffalo on his game preserve for  the purpose of saving and perpetuating the species, he purchased twelve calves, six bulls and six heifers from the which C.J. Jones had that year. He acquired them that same year from Major Samuel I. Bedson of Winnipeg, Canada This was known as the Stoney Mountain herd, being northern buffalo.

In 1890 Austin Corbin II founded a 26,000-acre preserve. Corbin Park, or the Blue Mountain Forest and Game Preserve (also known as the “Blue Mountain Forest Association” and “Corbin’s Park”) Originally, it was stocked with bison, white-tailed deer, black-tailed deer, mule deer, European red deer, bighorn sheep, moose, antelope, caribou, Himalayan mountain goats, pheasants and wild boar from the German Black Forest. The bison, deer, elk and boar all flourished, but the pheasants flew over the fences and the rest of the species proved unable to survive.  Corbin Park once had the largest bison herd in the country, and supplied bison and deer to refuges, parks and zoos all over the U.S.

 

1892 Corbin purchased ten more from C.J. Jones, which he paid one thousand dollars each. These five year old animals. two bulls and eight cows, were some of the calves that Jones had roped from the last remnant of the great southern herd in the Panhandle of Texas. These ten buffalo were transported and accompanied by Jones from his ranch near Garden City, Kansas, in a car fitted up with stalls, and upon arriving at Newport, New Hampshire, were turned loose and driven over the county road to the park.

 

Frostburg Mining Journal
Frostburg, Maryland
21 Jun 1890

A BIG GAME PRESERVE.
Thousands of Acres in New Hampshire to Be Kept for American Game.

 Much interest, says the Forest and Stream, attaches to the enterprise undertaken by Austin Corbin, who has laid out on an extensive scale a preserve for big game in New England. A tract of Country has been secured 40 miles north of Concord, amid the Croydon and Grantham Mountains of New Hampshire. The range covers many thousands of acres. Mr. Corbin proposes to inclose the territory, police it, and maintain it strictly as a private game preserve. The species of big game to he put out on it will include buffalo, elk, antelope, moose, caribou, and deer, white tailed and black tailed.

While this is further northeast than the recorded native range of the buffalo, there is no reason why they should not do well in New Hampshire. The region is the native home of the moose, caribou, and the white tailed deer; and the black tail might thrive there. We seriously question, however, the success of the experiment with antelope. The climate is dry as compared with that of the West, and the probability is that the species will not live in New England. It is sincerely to he hoped that Mr. Corbin’s enterprise in establishing such a preserve for the noble game of America may be successful.

 

Dec 14 1896 (extract) One of the largest of the herds is that of the Austin Corbin estate at Newport, N.H. Until recently there were ninety buffaloes in this preserve, but thirty of them were about a month ago given to the city of New York and placed in Van Cortlandt park. The Corbin estate consists of 28,000 acres, and in addition to the buffaloes it contains 1200 deer, 1000 elk, 500 wild boars and 150 moose.

War Cloud, King of the Corbin buffalo herd. Newport, New Hampshire
War Cloud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Austin Corbin II died 1896)

From this time on numbers have been sold and donated to various parks and individuals throughout the country and some to Europe. The members of the Austin family have always shown a keen interest in the preservation of the bison, and have done much to encourage the Bison Society in its endeavours to preserve the species from becoming extinct.

 

Logansport Reporter, Indiana, Jan. 14 1898
ON A BISON RANCH

Attempts at Cross-Breeding Between Domestic Cattle and Buffalo

Some years ago, when the fact was suddenly realized that the bison was in imminent danger of extinction, the federal government took steps to avoid that calamity by the formation of buffalo farms, where, by careful breeding, at least specimens of the disposed monarch of the prairie could be preserved. Several private individuals also established buffalo farms for the same purpose. One of the most successful of these was that of the late Austin Corbin, the banker, and railroad magnate. His herd originally consisted of 17 buffaloes, but now it comprises nearly 100 head of pure-bred bison, and it is said to be the largest single herd of these animals in the country.

Mr. Austin Corbin, son of their original owner of the herd, when asked for his opinion as to the probability of successful cross-breeding of the buffalo with the domestic cattle, said: “it may be possible, but guided by a knowledge of experiments in that direction made by my father. I would require very strong proof of the fact before believing that it has been, or can be done with success. At the suggestion of the Duke of Marlborough, my father, several years ago, imported a herd of Polled-Angus cattle, some 30 in number, from Scotland, for the purpose of cross-breeding with the bison on our cattle farm at Newport, N.H. The conditions were most favorable, as the bison were thoroughly acclimated and had largely

increased in numbers, but the attempt at cross-breeding was almost a total failure. The result was so unsatisfactory that the experiment was abandoned, and we returned to the raising of the bison, deer and unadulterated. The only successful attempts at cross-breeding that I have heard of was that of “Buffalo” Jones, owner of an extensive cattle range in New Mexico. When he was here, some five years ago, Jones claimed that his experiment had been a success: but when I saw him last, six months ago. I judged from his unwillingness to discuss the cross-breeding of bison that his experiment had not continued to be successful. What makes me most doubtful that it would pay Breeders to go into cross-breeding of bison with domestic cattle on an extensive scale is the fact that, while the half- breeds would bring little more than ordinary cattle, the raising of pure-bred bison would pay handsomely. There is no trouble in getting $1000 for first-class buffalo cow and prices range all the way from that figure down to $500. It seems to me that it would pay these Wisconsin breeders to raise the simon-pure article of American bison, rather than the half-breed buffalo.”

Mr. Corbin explained his recent action, in demanding the return of the 25 bison loan by him to the park commissioners, by stating that the animals are in a bad condition, owing to bad water, and the fact that they had not sufficient grazing ground. The section set apart for them contained 70 acres, but only 20 acres are available for grazing. The commissioners refused to increase the area, and therefore Mr. Corbin wanted his buffalo back on his own place, where he could take proper care of them.

 

In 1904 3 cows from the Corbin herd went to the National Zoological Park Herd, Washington D.C.

 

 

Team of 3yo Buffalo Steers
Loaned by Blue Mountain Forest Association trained by Harold E Baynes

The Buffalo can be tamed and domesticated, not easily, but time may make a change in this respect. Mr. Baynes drove about a pair of three-year-old buffaloes which he had trained in the Corbin preserved in New Hampshire, and undoubtedly, after a few years of domestication, this animal could be tamed sufficiently so that it could be handled by small farmers in the semi arid regions of the West, and utilize upon the lands not otherwise available for the raising of cattle. In the East, as well as in the West, we believe it can be profitably raised, and I beg to quote here from a letter of Mr. W. H. Miner, owner of “Hearts Delight” Farm at Chazy, on Lake Champlain, N.Y. who writes as follows:
” Am pleased to advise you that we have 10 buffaloes in our herd and they are doing very well indeed. These animals are worth from $250 to $350 each, according to prices which are received by the Lincoln Park Association of Chicago, and as the hides are very valuable for for robes, I consider the raising of buffaloes a profitable business.”

 

 

January 1907 was the first annual meeting of the American Bison Society located at the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park New York city. Austin Corbin was present for that meeting, he was a life member.

January 1908  he was recorded to have 136 bison.

1908 donated 3 bison to start the Montana National Bison Reserve. “Well! Why don’t you ask us for some buffaloes?” The Society was richer by three buffaloes immediately.

“And while thanks are in order the writer wishes to express his appreciation of the services rendered to this cause by Austin Corbin and the Blue Mountain Forest Association of which Mr. Corbin is the president, and indeed every member of the Association, has generously helped to further it. For carrying out experiments, and for use in exhibitions calculated to create interest in this campaign, the splendid buffalo herd at Newport, N.H. has ever been at the Society’s disposal.”  ERNEST HAROLD BAYNES

 

Sundown at Blue Mountain Forest
Photo by Ernest Harold Baynes

1910 Nov. 8 One bull and two cows were presented by the Blue Mountain Forest Association were added to the National Bison Range.

Corbin Animals Foe Sale
Feb 17, 1912

 

1914 Corbin herd summary: The Corbin herd has been in existence for 26 years, the original nucleus of 22 Buffalo having been placed in the Blue Mountain Forest game preserve at Newport, N.H., in 1890. According to John R. Spears,” the Buffalo in the park came originally from Montana, but were purchased of a Minnesota man.” At the beginning of 1894 the herd had increased to 40 head, compromising 10 bulls and 30 cows. In 1896 when the herd numbered 75 head, 23 were sent to Van Cortlandt Park, New York, where a little later they all died. The remaining 30 continued to increase until 1903 when the herd reached high watermark at about 173 head. The expense of maintenance, and particularly of feeding the animals through the long winter, proved too heavy, and in the last 10 years the herd has been gradually reduced. In 1908 it numbered 65 bulls and 71 cows, or a total of 136; in 1910 the number of bulls was reduced to 36 and the cows to 70, making a total of 106; in 1912 there were 41 Bulls and 45 cows, or 86 in all; on January 1, 1914, there were 41 Bulls and only 28 cows, making a total of 69 head, of which 13 were calves

 

1916 – Mr Edgell, Being asked to say something about the Blue Mountain Forest, or Corbin herd, stated that between 60 and 70 were then in winter quarters, but that in summer it was very difficult to see the herd, and to determine its number impossible. The municipality herd idea Mr.Edgell approved, pointing to the zoological collection at Rome as a model small collection of animals and one of much educational importance. He stated that he felt certain that the Blue Mountain Forest Association would present to animals to the new Wind Cave reserved. In closing Mr. Edgell referred to an apparent change in the stature and character of the Corbin bison, in the former respect having increased perhaps 10 percent; these changes he ascribed to the excellent conditions which surrounded them on the fence range.

Mr. Baynes motioned that a committee be appointed to confer with the Blue Mountain Forest Association regarding its proposed gift to the Wind Cave National herd.

Crating buffalo
Crating buffalo for transport to Pisgah Park

1917, the family donated six buffalo, three bulls and three cows for the purpose of establishing the Pisgah National Forest and Game Preserve in North Carolina. The crating took about two hours as they  were prepared and had done this in the past. After the ride to the train, and the crates loaded they were told to pack hay and etc. for a 48 hour trip. Thinking ahead they packed twice the amount, fortunate as it was 96 hours. It turned miserable from there, for the attendant and buffalo. The attendant stayed guard in the car with the buffalo and he could here the cars being switched, from track to track, town to town, etc….as long as the train was moving the buffalo settled down. One express official explained a mistake in the night had been made and they sent the car to another town. Finally arriving, doors thrown open for fresh air late at night and had to wait until morning to finish the journey. Morning brought wagons to load the crates for the last part of the trip. Almost there 1917 trip

Crowds a long the road and photographers. What an ordeal, twist and turns, crossing creeks, winding roads, uphills….hours….finally they make it to their destinations and are able to unload after making sure everything was set. Davie Crockett , a two year old bull, was the first to be released and they were glad for it, as he made a fuss the whole trip, making it known he wanted out! Then Daniel Boone a five to six year old bull and the leader, Simon Kexton, a three year old bull, Virginia Dare, amd eight year old cow. Betty Zane, a six year old cow and Winnie Davis, a five year old cow. All cows believed to be with calf.

 

Buffalo Morning Express and Illustrated
Buffalo, New York Sep 16, 1918
Exhibit of bison for new home of Science society.

In old days the buffaloes had their stamping ground on Buffalo creek.

For the new “building of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences in Elmwood avenue, which is rapidly nearing completion, a new and interesting exhibit is being prepared by the taxidermist of the society, Mr. Santens. It is a group of six bison made from a dozen specimens one of which came from the game preserve of Austin Corbin in New Hampshire and the others from the Buffalo zoo. They represent all ages from the young calf to the full-grown adult bull. Each animal will be in perfect pelage, will be seen as he would exist in the wild state. He is being mounted after the latest method, the skins being tanned and placed on papier-mache models-instead of being stretched.ott plaster cast. The models are made by Mr.Santens and show excellent craftsmanship.

 

The Ligonier Echo
Ligonier, Pennsylvania Dec 3 1919
AMERICAN BISON SAVED FROM EXTINCTION.
Government Establishing Herds in one National Park after another.
Buffalo Parks in Various States.
Bisons Multiply at a State Most.. Promising for “Planting of Many Herds.

More picturesquely interesting, for reasons connected with zoological history, is a “plant” of six buffaloes newly made in the Pisgah National Forest, in the mountains of North Carolina. For there was a time not so very long ago when herds of these animals browsed over that region, in fact, all over the Southern Appalachian country and they were not exterminated there until about the time of the Revolution. This hunch of half a dozen came from the Austin Corbin place, in New Hampshire, where there has been a buffalo preserve, preserve, under private ownership, for many years. In the Pisgah forest, an extensive inclosure has been built for them and they are making themselves comfortably at home.

 

 

Dayton Daily News
Dayton Ohio Nov 13 1924
Buffalo Meat Served in Dining Cars  (extract)

Thirty-seven head (including a female buffalo given by Charles Goodnight of Texas) reached Ravalli Saturday night, Oct. 16, 1909, and the following day were unloaded on a special switch track put in by the Northern Pacific Railway on the south side of the range, two and one half miles west of the Ravalli station. On Nov. 18, 1910, three buffalo, presented to the Blue Mountain Forest association, New Hampshire, from the herd founded by the late Austin Corbin, arrived at the range in good condition. There are six nationally owned buffalo herds in the United States. The two largest are located along the line of the Northern Pacific railroad, one in the Yellowstone National park and the other on the Montana National Bison range. The government owned herds in the United States contain 1719 animals. There is one herd in Canada reported to contain 10,000. The rapid increase of the buffalo in the United States to more than the number necessary to insure their perpetuity had made it possible for the Northern Pacific railroad company to secure buffalo meat for service on their dining cars. Many of those who frequented the range in the old days considered buffalo meat far superior to that of beef, when properly cooked.