The Last of a Great Race, the American Bison, California

Special Collections > Keystone Slides
tiff scanned file from original glass slide
When the first white explorers crossed the Mississippi, they found the Great Plains almost literally covered with herds of bison such as these. The popular name for them was, and is, buffaloes. However, they are properly called bison. Thousands of these large animals grazed in herds from Illinois westward to California and northward to British Columbia. Mounted on ponies, the Indians hunted the bison with bows and arrows and spears. It was exciting, for often a whole herd would charge a crowd of warriors, and the only safety lay in riding with them. No horse or rider could withstand the force of an onslaught of these beasts. The Indians hunted them or their skins, and for their meat. When the first transcontinental railway was built across the United States, the trains often had to stop for hours to allow the great herds to cross the tracks. With the advance of civilization, the bisons were rapidly killed off. Hunters with rifles killed them by the hundreds. Some kinds of bison roamed the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa at an early period, just as they did North America. The only survivors of the European bison are found in the forests of Southwestern Russia and in Caucasia. In Asia, Egypt, Soudan, and Italy, the bison has now been tamed, and is used as a farm animal. The view makes a description of the animals unnecessary. You will note that they have heavy, large heads, with short horns, a short, stubby neck, high withers, and heavy shoulders. Their hindquarters are extremely light as compared with their forequarters. The only remains of this fine tribe of animals are now found in parks and reservations. Keystone ID: 16676 Note: All titles, descriptions, and location coordinates are from the original Keystone Slide documentation as supplied by the Keystone View Company. No text has been edited or changed.
Copyright by the Keystone View Company. The original slides are housed in McConnell Library's Special Collections.