Wind Cave National Park


Hot Springs Weekly Star. – LOC
Hot Springs, S.D., June 09, 1899

 Perhaps no spot west of the Mississippi is so historic in interest as these Black Hills. A number of legends are connected therewith, perhaps the most beautiful of which is that of Battle Mountain, the topmost peak of a tier of rugged hills overlooking the entire Vale of Minnekahta. As near as I can recollect it I will give it to you as it was given to me, by a gentleman well versed in the history of this beautiful spot. “A number of years ago the Crow Indians made this their home, living in peaceful sublimity all their days and at peace with all the world. Their life seemed to be one of continual happiness and serenity. They spent their summers in camp and peaceful rest. In winter they sought that which sustained them during the rugged and gloomy winters that prevail in this region, and I might describe it in the works of Enoch Arden:

“No want was there of human sustenance. Soft fruitage, mighty nuts and nourishing roots; Nor save for pity was it hard to take. The helpless life so wild that it was tame. There in a sea-ward, gazing mountain gorge. They built, and thatched with leaves of pine their huts. Half huts, half native cavern. So the tribe set in this Eden of all plenteousness, dwelt with eternal summer content.” “Until there came an evil omen hanging over their very sky; like a bird of gallons per hour, and the plunge is as clear as crystal. Once in the water you will register a vow to return again, for the sensation of a plunge in this great pool of water at a natural temperature of 90 degrees the year around is never forgotten. The handsome building enclosing the pool is built of glass and iron and is 75×200 feet. “Hot Springs has everything to recommend it. The altitude, the climate and the water, and do not let it be imagined for a moment that it is simply a refuge for the lame and the halt alone, for it is just as much a resort for rest and pleasure, and probably more so, as any point in the country. Here one can lay aside the busy whirl of life and throw off the cares of business and have not alone those mentioned but numbers of other attractions to win and hold his admiration. “The great Wind Cave, out rivaling the Mammoth cave of Kentucky in extent, the Cascade springs, the lofty, pine-clad hills, grand canyons, rippling streams, beautiful falls of the Minnekahta and the Cheyenne, make up a matchless group of attractions. The Wind Cave has been explored a distance of ninety-one miles and 2,400 chambers have been found.”


The Conservative – LOC
Nebraska City, Neb., May 23, 1901


Commissioner Hermann, of the government land office has instructed the special agent of the interior to reopen the Wind Cave in the Black Hills of South Dakota to inspection by the public. The cave belongs to the federal government, and comprises about 1,000 acres. No depredations will be permitted on the premises, no specimens will be allowed to be taken away by tourists, and no fees will be permitted to be charged or received. Wind Cave is so called on account of the strong rushing current of air through the entrance. Several hundred feet below the surface a level is reached from which miles of arched avenues radiate in every direction, embracing a succession of chambers. The ceilings are pendant with gems of stalactite formation, while around the edges and in niches are specimens of peculiarly wrought figures and forms, resembling birds and animals.


Lead Daily Call
Lead, South Dakota, Jun 12, 1902
It May be Made a National Park.

Special to The Call:

Washington, D.C., June 12. Senator Gamble today introduced in the senate a bill to make Wind Cave, near Hot Springs, S.D. a national park.

There appears to be good prospects of the bill becoming law.

Wind Cave National Game Preserve, South – Dakota, 1903 1,000 acres (Approx.)

Wind Cave Park Herd—The herd in the Wind Cave National Park, S. Dak., owes its existence to the interest and untiring energy of the late Prof. Franklin W. Hooper, former President of the American Bison Society. In his first annual report as Acting President, on January 12, 1911, he recommended that steps be taken by the Society to establish a National herd of buffalo in South Dakota. Within three weeks the Society arranged to have Mr. J. Alden Loring, who had selected the location for the Wichita Range, examine the various locations available in the State. Mr. Loring’s report strongly recommended the Wind Cave National Park as the best site available on public lands in South Dakota. Acting on this recommendation, an appropriation of $26,000 was secured in the Agricultural Appropriation act of August 10, 1912, for the purchase of lands adjacent to the Park necessary to control an adequate water supply and for fencing. The acquisition of the land and the construction of the enclosure required some months and it was not until late in 1913 that the range was ready for occupancy.
Meanwhile the Zoological Society of New York had generously offered to place at the disposal of the American Bison Society a nucleus herd of 14 buffalo, 7 bulls and 7 cows, for the new preserve. On November 28, 1913, the animals reached their destination in safety after covering the 2,000-mile journey from New York in four days. An interesting account of the transfer has been given by Mr. H. R. Mitchell in the 7th Annual Report of the Bison Society (1914) . In his last annual report President Hooper had the satisfaction of reporting to the Society the successful consummation of the project which he had recommended three years before and which he had pressed with inflating interest. In the two years of its existence the herd has become acclimated and has done fairly well. During the spring of 1914 there were 4 calves, 3 females and one still-born, the sex of which was not recorded; in 1915 there was a loss of one of the older bulls and no calves were born, so that on January 1, 1916, the herd numbered 16 head, 6 bulls and 10 cows, one less than in the previous year. The absence of calves is explained by the fact that all of the cows which were old enough had their calves in 1914 and would therefore not breed the following year, while the younger cows were not sufficiently acclimated or were not old enough to breed in 1915.


The Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times
Deadwood, South Dakota Jul 19, 1911

Hon. E.W. Martin and son are here. Mr. Martin went out to his ranch for a few days. His son will remain and assumed charge of the Mammoth plunge for the balance of the season. The congressman accompanied J. Alden Loring to the Wind Cave country and looked it over for the American Bison association, for a tract to locate a herd of buffalo.


Hot Springs Weekly Star -LOC
Hot Springs S.D., August 25, 1911

Report to the Effect that Wind Cave: Has Been Made Game Preserve.

According to a statement in a recent issue of the Omaha World-Herald Wind Cave National park, in Custer county, has been selected a part of the national game preserves. The statement in the Omaha paper is:

“Wind Cave National Park in the southeast corner of the Black Hills, twelve miles north of Hot Springs, has been selected by J. Aiden Loring as a game preserve for the American Bison society, buffalo principally, but some smaller game, will be placed and protected there and in the land to be acquired surrounding the park, making, with the park’s sixteen and a half square miles about twenty square miles.. Dr. Loring finds the Wind Cave region with its rough rocks, rich grazing and western slope, ideal for a preserve. If it is taken over for this purpose it will, be stocked with about fifty buffalo* there being plenty in the United States, or Canada from which to get fine specimens, and eventually the herd and preserve will be turned over to the government’s biological survey.

Mr. Loring located, In 1801, the Wichita game preserve in the Wichita mountains in Oklahoma, where fifty buffalo and some elk, deer and antelope range. In the Flathead reservation in Idaho is the first of these game preserves, where are also fifty buffalo.


Lead Daily Call
Lead, South Dakota, Apr 24, 1912


Lead people are in receipt of a copy of the bill introduced in Congress by Congressman Martin establishing the Wind Cave national preserve near Hot Springs.

The bill provides a permanent range for herd of bison to be presented to the government by the American Bison society, and for such other native American animals as may be placed therein. The bill also authorizes the secretary of agriculture to purchase by condemnation or otherwise lands necessary for a permanent water supply at a cost not to exceed $15,000. The further sum of $17,000 is appropriated for inclosing the preserve and for erecting and maintaining buildings, taking the total appropriation $32,000.

The game preserve is to adjoin the Wind Cave National park and should prove a great interest to the Black Hills for its attraction for tourists and the fact that it gives the Black Hills an ideal place for maintaining the fast disappearing bison.

South Dakota has lacked an adequate home for this pioneer animal since Scotty Phillips passed over the great divide a year ago and his herd was scattered.

The preserve also fills the earnest desire of all Black Hills sportsmen who wish to see some spot in the Hills where wild game of all sorts might be entirely protected and thus produce their species in peace.


Hot Springs Weekly Star
Hot Springs S.D., April 26, 1912


ASKS FOR $32,000

A bill introduced by Congressman E. W. Martin, recently proposes to establish the “Wind Cave- National Game Preserve” on lands adjacent to the Wind Cave National park, near this city, for a permanent national range for a herd of bison, or buffalo, to be presented to the United States by the American Bison society. The matter is now before the Committees on agriculture in both the house and senate, Mr. Martin having taken it up before the senate committee with a view to having the appropriation called for, $32,000, added to the agricultural appropriation bill in the senate. Of the $32,000, $15,000 is to be used in the purchase of additional lands for adding to the bison range, and to insure a permanent water supply in dry seasons. The remaining $17,000 is for purpose of fencing the entire range to protect, the animals and prevent their straying or being killed. In addition to providing a range for bison, it is incidentally the purpose to have the proposed national game preserve stocked also with other native quadrupeds, such as elk, moose, deer and Rocky Mountain sheep, which it is claimed are in danger of being destroyed just as the fast disappearing buffalo has been annihilated by the savages of hunters and climate.

Not only is the American Bison society keenly interested in the bill and anxious to see it enacted into law, but the citizens of South Dakota would gladly welcome the establishment of such a game reserve within its borders. Representative Martin has been working on the proposition for months, and it is said that it is favored by both of the South Dakota senators. In addition to this, the bill has been strongly urged by the secretary of agriculture, under whose jurisdiction the condemnation proceedings for securing the land it is proposed to buy will fall. Much of the tract that will be secured by the government, in case the measure goes through, is land that has been little cultivated, though there are a few settlers whose rights the government would be obliged to purchase. The tract to be fenced will include approximately 10,000 acres.

Following is the bill:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled That there is hereby established a national game preserve, to be known as the Wind Cave National Game Preserve, upon the lands embraced within the boundaries of the Wind Cave National Park, in the State of South Dakota, for a permanent national range for a herd of bison to be presented to the United States by the American Bison Society, and for such other native American animals as may be placed therein. The Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to acquire by purchase or condemnation such other lands as may be necessary for the purpose of assuring an adequate, permanent water supply at a cost not exceeding the sum of fifteen thousand dollars, which amount, or so much thereof as may be necessary for the said purpose, is hereby appropriated. There is hereby further appropriated the sum of seventeen thousand dollars, or so much thereof as may be necessary for the purpose of enabling the Secretary of Agriculture to enclose the said game preserve with a good and substantial fence and to erect thereon all necessary sheds and buildings for the proper care and maintenance of the said animals, in all the sum of thirty two thousand dollars.


Weekly Journal-Miner
Prescott, Arizona, Jun 19, 1912

A Home For the Buffalo
The Senate has embodied the bill of Congressman Martin of South Dakota, in an amendment to the agricultural appropriations bill, and the American buffalo will be provided a home in Wind Cave Park where bison, elk and other large game are to be given every protection that can be thrown about them by Uncle Sam. Among the buffaloes being supplied for the new game reservation, are ten from the New York Zoological Garden , which will be shipped by Dr. William T. Hornaday to the South Dakota preserve. At one time hundreds of thousands of American buffaloes inhabited the country, but the number remaining in the world has been reduced to between three and four thousand. The hope has been expressed that the Wind Cave Park project will be the initial step toward restoring this great animal in considerable numbers to America.


The Weekly Pioneer Times Mining Review
Deadwood, South Dakota Sep 26, 1912


Dr. T. S. Palmer, assistant chief in charge of national game preserves, and Frederick M. Dille, special agent of the bureau of biology survey of the department of agriculture are in deadwood arranging for the fencing of the Wind Cave national park, in which will be established a herd of buffalo to be donated to the government by the American Bison society. Yesterday they were in conference with the United States Marshal Seth Bullock and Forest Supervisor Paul D. Kelleter and outline the work, which will commence this fall and be ready for the reception of the herd before next spring.

The track is to be enclosed, which includes the original Wind Cave preserve and other land purchased for the purpose of securing an adequate supply of water, will have an area of 10,000 acres and will require seven-teen miles of fence. It is proposed to enclose it with a Page woven wire fence, of three inch square mesh. The woven wire will be six feet high, and above it will be stretched two barbed wires, making the extreme top seven and a half feet from the ground. The barbed wires will be placed above to prevent deer and other animals from scaling the fence. At the bottom along the ground, will be stretched a third barbed wire to prevent dogs or ground animals from digging under it. It is estimated that the construction of the fence will cost $700 per mile, or about $12,000 for the whole job . As the congressional appropriation is $26,000 there will be sufficient left to pay for the additional land secured.

While here Dr. Palmer and Mr. Dille are giving attention to the plans devised for establishing a national game preserve at the Belle Fourche irrigation reservoir. They announce that plants suitable for bird food will be put in and that the lake back of the dam will be fenced. This latter improvement will require thirty-one miles of fencing. In the near future 400,000 fish will be planted in the reservoir, the assortment to include small-mouth bass, lake trout and land-locked salmon .


November 24, 1913, the individually crated animals were placed in two new steel express cars and shipped the next day by rail to Hot Springs, SD at an express charge of $850. The Society reported: A great deal of interest was taken in the shipment at all stopping points… The explanatory labels attracted attention… crowds gathered quickly and asked many questions or climbed up to get a look at our strange charges. The herd arrived Friday, November 28th, at 9:30 AM in excellent condition. The total cost to get them to the park was $1,150 and the total time was 63 hours for the trip of two thousand miles.



The Weekly Pioneer Times Mining Review
Deadwood, South Dakota, Dec 4, 1913


There is now in transit from New York to Hot Springs, So. Dak., a herd of fourteen pure blood American bison, presented by the New York Zoological society, which in turn presents it to the government for the founding of a new national herd. About one year ago, Dr. Franklin W. Hooper, president of the Bison society, propose to the national government that a new national bison herd should be started in the Black Hills, and offered that in case the government would not set aside the Wind Cave National park as a range, and provide adequate fencing and maintenance, the Bison society would furnish a herd of not less than fifteen animals, as a gift. This offer was immediately accepted, and very soon thereafter the New York Zoological society offered to the Bison society a nucleus herd of fourteen animals toward the fulfillment of the obligation.

Train cars from bison trip
Photo from Wind Cave Nat’l Park

The Zoological society’s herd at the New York Zoological Park contain previous to this shipment forty-two animals. On Nov. 24th , fourteen of the finest animals, seven of each sex, and representing all ages, were selected and crated for shipment. The shipment left New York on the following day, over the New York Central railway, in charge of the American Express company. The animals fill two large express stock cars and are transported and passenger trains. The route is over the New York Central to Chicago thence over the Chicago and Northwestern to Hot Springs. This shipment is accompanied by Chief Clerk H. R. Mitchell, of the Zoological Park; Frank Rush, Warden of the Wichita National Bison Range, and Frederick M. Dille, Warden of the Wind Cave National Park. It is expected to reach Hot Springs, So. Dak., about December 3. From that point, a haul of twelve miles by truck is necessary to bring the animals to the Wind Cave National Bison Range.


The New York Zoological Park bison herd has long been noted as the largest on public exhibition, and also one of the most prolific. It contains five different strains of bison blood, and all the members of the new national herd were born in New York. It was from this heard that, in 1907, the Zoological society, in cooperation with the national government, founded the Wichita National Bison Range and herd. The society furnish the entire nucleus herd of fifteen animals, which, upon their arrival in Oklahoma, were immediately placed in charge of Warden Rush. This venture was a hazardous one, because of the presence of the deadly Texas fever tick in the Wichita National Bison Range. Many predictions were made in Oklahoma that the fever ticks would kill all the buffaloes within one year; but by diligent and unremitting efforts, Warden Rush finally succeeded in eradicating the fever tick from the entire bison range of fourteen square miles with the loss of only two of the buffaloes. The herd has now increased to forty-eight head, and all of its members are in fine condition.

In 1909, the American Bison society, under the leadership of Dr. W. T. Hornaday brought about the establishment, in the Flathead Valley, of Montana, what is known as the Montana National Bison Herd. The society raised $10,500 for the purchase of a nucleus herd, and presented forty-one animals to the government, all save three of which came from the Conrad Herd, at Kalispell. The Montana herd now contains ninety-six head, and is an extremely fine condition, without ever having been fed at the expense of the government.

Besides the bison ranges in Oklahoma and Montana, and the new one now being consummated in South Dakota, there are two other national ranges, one in the Yellowstone National Park, and the other on the Niobrara military reservation in Nebraska.


American Bison Society 1914

The most important work of the past season has been connected with the establishment of the new Wind Cave National Game Preserve in the southern limits of the Black Hills of South Dakota. Through the cooperation of the National Government, the American Bison Society and the New York Zoological Society, acting under the law and with the appropriation made by Congress in 1912 on the recommendation of this society, the Department of Agriculture during the spring and summer of 1915 was engaged in acquiring lands containing permanent and abundant supplies of pure water adjacent to the old Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota; in creating out of the old Park lands and adjacent lands in part already belonging to the National Government and in part acquired by purchase, anew National Game Preserve. Portions of this preserve have already been fenced to receive the nucleus herd of bison. Wind Cave Bison Herd Ready For Crating

On November 5, 1913, the Bureau of Biological Survey of the United States Department of Agriculture through Dr. T. S. Palmer notified this Society and
the New York Zoological Society that the Preserve would be ready to receive from this Society within ten days the nucleus herd of buffalo which the Society had agreed with the National Government to furnish.

The New York Zoological Society, which in April 1912, offered to present to this Society ten buffaloes towards the nucleus herd, anticipating the fencing of
the new Preserve in South Dakota, caused to be built crates in which to ship the buffalo, one in a crate. The crates and the buffaloes were ready for shipment even before notice was received from the Biological Survey that an enclosure would be ready to receive them. 

The New York Zoological Society not only furnished the ten buffaloes generously presented in 1912, but increased the number to fourteen, seven males and seven females. The care of the shipment was placed by the American Bison Society in charge of Mr. H. R. Mitchell of the New York Zoological Society and two representatives of the Bureau of Biological Survey who had had previous experience in the care of and in
the shipping of buffaloes for the Biological Survey Bureau.

On Monday, November 24, the herd, fourteen in number, was crated, the fourteen crates were placed in two new steel express cars and shipped on the 25th by the New York Central and the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific route to the station at Hot Springs, South
Dakota, at an express charge of $850. The herd, which was fed and watered on the way, arrived at Hot Springs at 9.30 on Friday morning, November 28, in excellent condition. The animals were carted in their crates overland some eleven miles, and turned loose in their
new home in the new National Game Preserve at eleven o’clock on the evening of the same date. The traveling expenses of those in charge of the herd during the expedition were $230.10.

Since the buffaloes arrived they have been a source of very great interest to the people of South Dakota and to the Indians that are remnants of the tribes native in the northwest. The gratitude of this Society is due to the Ex-Secretary of Agriculture, the Hon. James Wilson, to the present Secretary of Agriculture, the Hon. D. K. Houston, to the Biological Survey Bureau, Dr. H. V. Henshaw, Chief, and to Dr. T. 8. Palmer of that Bureau for their most important, effective and encouraging work in connection with the establishment of this
new herd, the sixth to be established on National Game Preserves. The gratitude of this Society is also especially due to the New York Zoological Society, its Board of Trustees and officers, for the magnificent giftChute View

of fourteen full-blooded bison to constitute the nucleus herd, and for the care taken by the Society to have the animals properly crated for the shipment.
The Society has pledged itself to the National Government to place at least fifteen buffaloes in this new Preserve. It will be incumbent on the Society to add
to the herd during this coming season of 1914 additional buffaloes, and it appears to be desirable that the buffaloes hereafter added should come from private herds in South Dakota, or in neighboring states. 

The work of creating the new Wind Cave National Game Preserve will be fully described at this meeting by Dr. T. S. Palmer of the Committee on State and Na￾tional Herds. The nature of the herd presented by the New York Zoological Society will be described by Dr. William T. Hornaday for publication in the annual report of this Society, and an account of the expedition to the new Preserve will be given by Mr. H. R. Mitchell in charge of the expedition.









Lead Daily Call
Lead, South Dakota, Jan 24, 1914


Fort Pierre, S. D., Jan. 24 –The famous “Scotty” Philip herd of buffalo, kept in a 10,000 acre pasture near Fort Pierre, S. D., has been placed on the market by Philip Philip and George Philip, jr., sons of and administrators of the estate of the late James (‘ Scotty’) Philip. This herd of buffalo, the largest in the United States, now includes 70 head of yearlings, 55 head of two-year-olds, and 275 head of three-year-old and older. These are all fullbloods, most of them born in captivity.

The sale of the herd is being arranged by Carson Williams, of Sioux City, and John Sloat, of Gettysburg, S.D. Mr. Sloat is now in communication with the Canadian government, with a view of selling the entire herd. If purchase by Canada they may be sent to the reserves in Alberta, where the Pablo herd was sent a few years ago. Fifteen head have been sold to the United States government to be sent to the Wind Cave National park near Hot Springs, S.D.


The Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times
(Deadwood, South Dakota, Jun 10, 1914


Although there has been no public statement issued lately regarding the condition of the state game fund, it is stated on competent local authority that there is close to $50,000 in the fund. This matter is of interest in view of the fact that an effort is being made to induce the state authorities to devote part of it to the purchase of the whole or part of the Scotty Phillips herd of buffalo, which will soon be disposed of at Pierre by the executor of his estate.

It is stated that during his lifetime, Phillips demanded not less than $250 a head for his buffalo, and declared he would take no less even if the and entire herd were sold. It is thought, however, that this price will not be insisted on at the sale which is soon to take place, but in any event, the state game fund is large enough to permit of a considerable purchase. At the price of $250 a head, $10,000 would buy forty, which is enough to form the nucleus of a herd at the state game preserve near Custer. The federal government started its herd at the Wind Cave reserve with fourteen head and considered that number sufficient.Wind Cave Bison herd 1914


To Dr. Franklin W. Hooper, President, American
Bison Society:

Regarding the transportation of the bison herd from the New York Zoological Park to the Wind Cave
National Bison Range, I beg to report as follows :
The shipping of live bison, while not an extremely hazardous undertaking where conditions are fairly favorable for their handling, involves careful attention to details in the preparation of arrangements for their capture, crating and transportation. Just such care was given to the arrangements for the shipment and delivery of the fourteen animals presented to the American Bison Society by the New York Zoological Society, and in turn given by them to the United States Government as the nucleus of a National herd to be established in Wind Cave National Park in the southwestern part of South Dakota. Your Society having assumed responsibility for the safe delivery of these animals at their destination, in accordance with your instructions, preparations were commenced for their forwarding in the last week of November.

The only means of handling a wild animal of the size and strength of a full grown bison with a minimum risk of injury is by confining it closely and securely in a crate of sufficient size only to permit of reasonable comfort, without being large enough to allow of too great freedom. The crate is built with all framing on the outside and with perfectly smooth timber on the inside ; the bottom, sides and ends solid to a height of about three feet, and the remainder spaced about three quarters of an inch apart to furnish light and ventilation. The framing is usually reinforced on the outside, either by iron angles or heavy galvanized strips, to prevent spreading or racking.

In this case, because of the long distance to be covered, the crates were provided with small hinged doors at each end, to permit feeding and watering the animals en route, and cleaning the crates when necessary.

The fourteen animals to be sent were carefully selected by Dr. Hornaday, Director of the Zoological Park, from the herd of forty-two head—an equal number of each sex, all ages being represented. The work of crating commenced on the morning of November 24th. Crates were placed at the end of a long chute which had previously been carefully lined with smoothly dressed heavy plank. Little trouble was experienced in getting the animals safely into the crates. In several cases they tried to leave the chute and avoid entering the waiting crate, but all attempts were futile after they had once entered the narrow passage.

The crating was successfully completed on November 24th, and the crates stored for the night in one of the nearby service buildings. Arrangements had been made in advance to secure two steel express cars of the very latest pattern to carry the shipment through to destination without transfer. These were placed on the New York Central siding at Fordham at ten o’clock on November 25th, and the transfer to them began at once.

In order to get the cars into a fast express train leaving the Grand Central Station at 6.15 that evening, it was necessary to have them ready for transit to the Grand Central Station by a switch engine at four o’clock in the afternoon. 

Carpenters were immediately put to work building bunks in the end of one car, for the accommodation of those who were to accompany the shipment. The writer represented your Society and Mr. Fred M. Dille, Inspector in charge of the Wind Cave National Park, and Mr. Frank Rush, Supervisor of the Wichita National Bison Range, represented the Government.

A quantity of timothy hay and crushed oats sufficient to supply the animals during the time scheduled for the trip with a liberal allowance for possible delays on the road was loaded in each car. At last all was ready, and we left the cars temporarily in charge of an express employee to meet them later made up in an express train of fourteen cars in the Grand Central Terminal.

Promptly at 6:45, Tuesday evening, November 25th, we glided slowly out of the great terminal on to the main track and moved rapidly away on the long journey.

Our route was to be over the New York Central to Suspension Bridge, Michigan Central to Chicago, and Chicago & Northwestern to destination. The prearranged schedule which we hoped to follow called for our arrival in Chicago at 7:45 P. M. Wednesday (25 hours). We were due to leave Chicago at 10:15 the same evening and reach Missouri Valley, Iowa, at 8 o’clock, Thursday morning, leaving there a half hour later for Hot Springs, South Dakota, where we wore to arrive at 9:30 Friday morning, November 28th, a total of sixty-three hours for the trip of two thousand miles.

A great deal of interest was taken in the shipment at all of the stopping points along the line. The explanatory labels which were pasted on each side of each car immediately attracted the attention of those near the stations, and if the stop was of sufficient length to permit, a crowd gathered quickly about the cars and asked many questions or climbed up to get a look at our strange charges. Where time and circumstances would permit it, we allowed some of them to peep through the crates at the animals near the door.

Our train lost time in the yards at Detroit and through Michigan, with the result that we reached Chicago several hours late and long after the schedule leaving time for our connection over the Northwestern. A delay of at least ten hours seemed inevitable, but to our surprise we learned that the Northwestern train was being held for us until we could cover the intervening six miles between terminals by means of a switch engine, which we accomplished in record time.

It was at first expected that the entire distance would be covered in passenger train, and that those in attendance would have no difficulty in getting meals either in dining cars or at regular eating stations along the line, but at the last moment it was found possible to include our two cars in a full train of express cars only, and this arrangement was continued as far as Missouri Valley, Iowa. While this greatly facilitated the rapid handling of the cars through terminals, it worked somewhat of a hardship on the attendants; but fortunately, foreseeing a possibility of something of this kind, just before we started we laid in a limited supply of canned goods and other edibles, and provided ourselves with a small alcohol stove. These as it happened we were obliged to depend upon entirely until we reached Missouri Valley in the forenoon of Thanksgiving Day. As we had a stop there of three or four hours awaiting connections, Mr. Rush was made a committee of one to arrange for a suitable Thanksgiving Dinner at a nearby hotel, and one can readily imagine we did full justice to the menu which included turkey and cranberry sauce.

We expected more or less trouble in watering our animals en route, as our cars were not provided with water tanks, so we placed an empty barrel in each car, and by having the head cut down so that it would fit inside and act as a float, we were able to keep the barrels partly filled without their slopping badly. These we had refilled along the road.

This was only necessary once as we found most of the animals would drink but little ; in fact one or two did not drink a drop of water during the entire journey, while others drank freely once or twice a day. All ate fairly well of hay and crushed oats after the first night. The greater number of the animals remained quiet and laid down and got up in their crates at their pleasure after they were once loaded in the cars, but several continued to be ”scrappy” all the way, and would kick
the crates violently on the slightest provocation.

The run over the twelve mile spur from Buffalo Gap to Hot Springs was the slowest part of the trip, requiring” nearly an hour, but we reached our destination on the time originally planned before leaving New York, 9:30 A. M. Friday morning. Our arrival was, as may be expected, quite an event, and the populace generally turned out to welcome us. By previous arrangement and wiring ahead we had the details well worked out, so that little time was lost in getting the work of unloading underOn the road from Hot Springs way. Our cars were immediately switched to the Burlington yards which were nearly two miles nearer our destination than the Northwestern. The entire truck equippage of Hot Springs had been chartered for the transportation to the range and numerous other vehicles, including several coal wagons, were pressed into service. By noon the unloading was completed and the crates securely lashed or chained to the wagons. A hurried luncheon followed and before one o’clock the procession started off on the winding road to the Bison Range. Mr. Rush travelled with the teams to be on hand in case of any emergency, while Mr. Dille and myself, after stocking up with a respectable load of provisions, followed in an automobile and passed them a few miles out on the road.

The day was bright and beautiful, and as we came in sight of the long string of slowly moving teams against the background of the clear-cut timbered outline of the distant Black Hills, we could not help but feel that this small group of captive animals were coming in to their own.

We soon reached the Cave headquarters, about two miles distant from the enclosed range, where we waited, hoping to get some good photographs of the arrival ; but alas, the journey was too long to be accomplished wholly in daylight. The teams lagged on the last half of the trip, and it was seven o’clock before they reached the point selected for liberating the animals. A number of interested persons who wanted to see the bison actually released had come out from Hot Springs in automobiles. A raw, cold wind was blowing by this time, and as there was plenty of good fire wood at hand a rousing bonfire was built which somewhat dimmed our two lanterns. In order to lessen the labor of unloading, trenches had been dug just outside the entrance to the enclosed range into which each wagon lacked as its turn came, bringing the rear end close to the ground so that the crates could be worked off inside the fence.

The first animal took its release very calmly and only when noisily urged disappeared into the surrounding darkness. The unloading by the uncertain light of our lanterns and bonfire proved to be a more or less difficult task. Greatly to the surprise and disappointment of some of our spectators, we had a good deal of trouble in getting some of the bison out of their crates. In several cases the operation was more like removing the crate from the animal than the animal from the crate.

At last our task was over, and it was with something of a feeling of relief that we realized that our trip had been brought to a successful conclusion, practically without a hitch in our arrangements or the slightest injury of any kind to man or beast. Returning to Hot Springs at that hour was out of the question for the teams, so they were made comfortable in the large barn at the range, and we set out on foot for the headquarters, about two miles distance, reaching there at midnight. As the cook could get no information about our coming in advance there was a short wait followed by a midnight supper that will not be soon forgotten by those present. Against my vigorous protest Mr. Dille gave up his bed to me and, making Mr. Rush and myself at home in the headquarters’ office, took his blankets and camped in the barn. The next morning Mr. Rush and I set out for the range to see how the bison were taking their liberty and to get a few photographs. We found the animals grazing contentedly on the open range, and showing no signs of their recent unpleasant experiences.

Team used to explore bison rangeWe spent the morning looking over the temporarily enclosed range of fifty-five acres, and in the afternoon, accompanied by Mr. Dille, drove as completely over the Bison Range as time would permit.

The Wind Cave National Bison Range now contains 10,522 acres, funds for the fencing of about one half of which have been granted by Congress. Plans are already approved for the fencing of the eastern half, and work will begin as early in the spring as weather conditions permit.

In comparison with the Wichita National Bison Range in Oklahoma, this range, in addition to being entirely free from the Texas fever tick, has the advantage of a very much better winter range. While the long dry fall that prevailed in this section undoubtedly contributed greatly to the condition of winter range this season, open spaces and southern slopes exposed to the sun as well as timbered and protected valleys are abundant.

I believe that under ordinary conditions after this winter, when the bison have become thoroughly acclimated, it will be unnecessary to feed any hay. The work of fencing the present enclosure has been done in a very substantial manner. Lines have been run with as few angles as possible, and corners and angle posts securely anchored. This report should not be closed without making special acknowledgment of the courtesy of the American Express Company in extending special rates for the shipment, and congratulations to them and the railroad lines over which it passed for their admirable record of its handling.
Respectfully submitted,


Lead Daily Call
Lead, South Dakota, Dec 12, 1914 

Extracts From the Annual Report of the Biology Survey to Agriculture Department.

Washington, D. C., Dec. 11. — The following are extracts from the annual report of the Bureau of biology survey, United States Department of agriculture, referring to the game reservations other than those for the protection of birds:

National Bison Range. With an addition of 19 calves born to the herd of buffalo on the National Bison Range Montana during the past year, the total number of the herd is now 115. It is difficult to ascertain the number of elk on the range, but 25 had have been observed by the warden in charge, an increase of 1 over the last year. There were 9 antelope on the range at the end of the fiscal year, but the number of young born in the past spring is not yet known. No animals have died during the year.

Weather conditions during the spring were ideal, and an abundance of bunch grass and other feed was the result. Many improvements have been made, roads had been repaired, trails cleared, and a telephone line 2 miles long constructed to connect with the Flathead companies lines.

Elk Refuge in Wyoming. Negotiations have been practically consummated for the purchase of a tract of land for a winter elk refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, authorized by act of March 4, 1913, but title to the land has not yet been secured.

Niobrara Game Reservation. Conditions on the Niobrara Reservation Nebraska have been exceptionally favorable, and all the animals are in good condition. The reservation continues to be an attraction to citizens of the State, as is evidenced by a large number of visitors. The 37 animals now on the reservation include 10 buffalo, 23 elk, and 4 deer. Since their arrival there has been an increase of 2 buffalo, 7 elk and 1 deer. The only loss so far reported was that of a young elk, which died during the winter. The additional deer was purchased from the parks department of Council Bluffs Iowa.

When Cave Game Preserve. Through cooperation of the American Bison Society, 14 buffalo, 7 males and 7 females, donated by the New York Zoological Park, were successfully shipped by express on November 25, 1913, to that Wind Cave Preserve, near Hot Springs, S. Dak. Sufficient land has been an acquired and added to the preserve to ensure a permanent water supply. With the 21 out transferred from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and a deer recently purchased, there are now 36 animals on the preserve. Contracts have been let for the construction of a strong woven-wire fence 88 inches in height and 8.67 miles in length, to inclose 4,160 acres of the preserve.

As a result of the unusually mild winter in Jackson Hole region in Wyoming, the migration of elk to the feeding grounds was not large. Feeding the elk began January 30th and ended March 28th, with a total of 6,150 elk fed. 241 elk were captured in Jackson Hole for distribution to National and State game reservations. Fifty head were distributed in the National Forest in Utah; 23 to the newly created State preserve in Custer County, South Dakota: and 21 to the Wind Cave game preserve near Hot Springs, South Dakota.

Reports indicate that there were but slight winner losses among the elk not fed.

In cooperation with the Department of Interior and Treasure the project of stocking with reindeer part of the Aleutian Islands Reservation was begun summer of 1913. Owing to very rough weather a number of reindeer aboard the Manning, which left Portage Bay with 65, refuse to eat. As a result, 3 died. It was therefore determined to place a herd of 21 on Dutch Harbor Island and to land the remaining 36 head at Umnak.


Six additional bison (2 bulls and 4 cows) were brought in from Yellowstone National Park in 1916. The present Wind Cave bison herd originated from these 20 animals.



Spring of April 1913 huge historic fire moves through wind cave, started by a rancher burn a straw stack

Nov 25 1913, left NY  14 head 7 males 7 females

Dec 4 1913 herd on the way 

Dec 12 1914 herd has arrived 

Buffalo are at Wind Cave by June 12 1914 

Noted they are a huge attraction.

January 14 1915

On motion of Dr. Hornaday, a resolution was unanimously adopted expressing the sorrow of the Society for the loss, by death, of Prof. Hooper, President from 1911 to 1914, the Society’s high appreciation of his services, and reciting the fact that the Wind Cave National Bison Range
remains as a perpetual monument to Prof. Hooper’s devotion to the cause.


South Dakota, May 21, 1915.
To the President and Members of the American Bison Society:

Wind Cave Bison Herd 1915
Photo by Mr. Fred M. Dille 1915

Regarding the small herd of bison, which your Society donated to the Government for the establishment of a herd upon this Park, I am pleased to report that their condition is satisfactory in every respect. South Dakota, in common with the West, has been repeatedly drenched this spring, and the grass in the pasture will he heavy. The animals have been at liberty, within the completed enclosure, since the first of last December, and unless they die from excessive flesh before autumn, the herd will be in excellent condition for next winter.
It became necessary to execute the oldest bull last winter. He was badly injured in a fight and, although he was up and around, he finally got down and was unable to rise. The head and hide were shipped to the Biological Survey, at Washington for museum material. Dr. Hornaday expressed regret that this particular animal should have met with such a fate, for at the time of the shipment of the herd to South Dakota, he was selected to head the same. But the Doctor would be agreeably surprised to see the next two bulls in age, seven and eight years, and the remarkable manner in which they have developed. The herd at present has two heads and they are playing a draw game for supremacy. A slight lameness to one would give the other an advantage, which he would no doubt seize at
As reported there were but three calves last season and at this writing we have no increase to report for this year. The number of bison in the herd is sixteen. These calves of 1914 have outgrown the calves of 1913. which were shipped out with the herd. I attribute this to the application of certain cattle feeding principles and the use of a balanced ration of both hay and grain for the cows.
You are not to understand that the herd is being fed hay and grain now, but during the year that we were obliged to hold them within the fifty-three acre enclosure, it was necessary to place them upon a feeding basis.

Their former keeper at the New York Zoological Park used to drive these animals about the lot with a willow stick. He would be surprised to observe how quickly his pets have thrown aside their restraint and accepted the “Call of the wild.” He might be unexpectedly surprised, if he should presume to take advantage of a previous acquaintance and attempt any familiarity.
There are some three thousand visitors to this Park during the year, and your bison herd will certainly obtain abundant appreciation.

Inspector Biological Survey.


January 1916 American Bison Society reports 16 head. Six males and ten females. 


The Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times
Deadwood, South Dakota, Jun 2, 1916

At Wind Cave National park the government has set aside a big game preserve. Here is one of the largest herds of bison in the country, and many elk and antelope. Adjoining the government preserve is a state preserve set aside by South Dakota. the state preserve consists of more than 40,000 acres and contains a larger herd of bison and more elk and antelope that the government preserve.


1917 Wind Cave
National Game Preserve 11 Males – 15 females – 8 young born in 1917 – 34 Grand Total

1919 Wind Cave
National Game Preserve 20 Males – 23 Females – 12 young born in 1919 – 55 Grand Total


Queen City Mail
Spearfish, South Dakota, Feb 22, 1922

Game Herd Is Increasing

The Lead Call says that a report from Wind Cave, which is one of the national parks, says that the animal census for 1921 gives 72 head of bison,  150 head of elk, 34 head of antelope and two black tail deer inside the Wind Cave game preserve. The bison have increased from 29 head in 1915 to their present number. The elk in 1916 numbered 39 head. The antelope at the beginning of 1919 numbered but 10 head. There has been no increase in the deer.


1922 Wind Cave 
National Game Preserve 31 Males – 39 Females – 22 young born in 1922 – 92  Grand Total

1925 Wind Cave 
National Game Preserve 37 Males – 71 Females – 17 young born in 1925 – 125 Grand Total

1929 Wind Cave 
National Game Preserve 147  Grand Total


Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Oct 20, 1928

North Dakota ‘U’ Wants Wind Cave Park Buffalo For Bison day Festival

(Special to the Argus-Leader)

Hot Springs, Oct 20. – If the University of North Dakota has its way it will serve buffalo meat from the Wind Cave national game preserve at a barbeque which will be a feature of its annual Homecoming day in November.

Application has been made to the preserve for a buffalo but it is not possible to sell any of the animals until official sanction has been given which may not be in time to provide North Dakota’s Bison day with its appropriate meat course.

The emblem of the North Dakota university is a bison and its annual festival known as Bison day.


From the National Parks:

The importance of the efforts made to return these animals to the wild was noted when one of the original 14 died. The bison, named “Sandy” because of his light color, succumbed to the rigors of his 24th winter in December 1936. The newspaper conveyed it well: There are doubtless hundreds of buffaloes born on the plains which spent their last days in some park or zoo, but Sandy was one of the few to be born in a zoo and to die on the open range.


Wind Cave National Park - Ranger Estes Suter with bison herd
Photo from Wind Cave National Park


John Estes Suter worked as a wildlife manager for Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, from 1931 to 1944. He is credited with restoring the bison to their natural genetic traits, with the aid of local natives.  (wikitree)






From Wind Cave National Park:

In July of 1935, the game preserve became part of Wind Cave National Park. During the early years of the preserve, the animals were kept in small enclosures. Eventually, it was realized that they needed more space. The bison and elk needed additional forage and the pronghorn needed room to escape from predators. With the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), fences within the park were removed. And in 1946, 16,341 additional acres were added, enlarging the park to 28,059 acres.

During the 1950’s and 60’s, park wildlife was the focus of much attention. Because of the lack of large predators, like wolves and grizzly bears, the bison and elk herds had grown to the point that they were literally “eating themselves out of house and home.” Park rangers began to evaluate the carrying capacity of the park. Carrying capacity is the number of animals that can exist in a habitat without damaging it. To solve the problem of overgrazing, the bison and elk herd sizes were reduced. Park rangers began an active program to manage the herd size. They began rounding up the animals and shipping the excess live from the park to other parks and reserves. Rangers also worked to improve the grassland by reseeding overgrazed areas with native grasses and controlling exotic plant species.

In the 1970’s and 80’s, managers continued to focus on caring for the wildlife and rangeland by building an understanding of how the natural systems should function. The reintroduction of fire as a natural means to improve the range and to limit the expansion of the forest onto the prairie was researched. An active fire program was started, with the first prescribed fire occurring in 1972.

Bison_and_Prairie_Dog_in_Wind_Cave_National_Park by Steven Keys 2019
Bison and the prairie dog by Steven Keys (more of his works)


Bison movements tracked by collars and satellites at Wind Cave  Updated 

Bison are being processed at Wind Cave National Park Oct 23, 2019 by Connor Matteson

Aug of 2021 Darrell Red Cloud , descendant from Chief Red Cloud is a graduate and teacher at the Oglala Lakota College, he presented a series of programs about the importance of the Bison to the Lakota people. ” Wind Cave is integral to the origin of the Lakota people,” said Superintendent Leigh Welling.  Darrel Red Cloud is fluent in the language of the Lakota as well as a bachelors degree in Lakota culture. Its is said he is a great entertainer and story teller. The programs will help people understand the deep roots and meanings the bison have on the Native people of the long ago plains.