Penn State

Marc McDill - Associate Professor of Forest Management, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Exploring with Custer - The 1874 Black Hills Expedition

Author: Ernest Grafe and Paul Horsted

Book Description:

In 1874, Gen George A. Custer led an expedition to the Black Hills of South Dakota to determine whether there was truth in the rumors that there was gold there. Gold was discovered by Custer's men, making it just a matter of time before the U.S. Government would abandon the Ft. Laramie Treaty of 1851 that had made the Black Hills part of a Souix reservation. Grafe and Horstad's book provides a detailed history of the expedition based on diaries, journals, and newspaper accounts. One of the interesting aspects of the 1874 Custer expedition is the series of photographs taken by W. H. Illingworth. The photos provide a unique record of the condition of the Black Hills forest prior to European settlement. Paul Horsted has attempted to re-create Illingworth's photos. Comparing Illingworth's photos with Horsted's gives a unique perspective on the impact of fire suppression on Western conifer ecosystems.


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