The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 33, July 1929 - April, 1930 Page: 35
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The Significance of the Destruction of the Buffalo
ferred to. It is believed that the domain of the great herds was
divided about 1849 by the California emigration, bringing about
the Northern and Southern herds. One of the principal routes of
these overland travellers followed up the Kansas and Platte rivers,
and thence westward by the North Platte, crossing the Rocky
Mountains by way of the South Pass. The buffaloes were soon
all driven from this region, thousands of them being slaughtered
by the emigrants. Captain Stansbury, who passed over this trail
in 1849, makes the following statement concerning this fact:
"Today the hunters killed their first buffalo, but in order to
obtain it, had to diverge some four or five miles from the road and
pass back of the bluffs, the instinct or experience of these sagacious
animals having rendered them shy of approaching the line of travel.
This has always been the case, for it is a well-attested fact that
when the emigration first commenced, travelling trains were fre-
quently detained for hours by immense herds crossing their track,
and in such numbers that it was impossible to drive through
With the increase of travel over this route and the building of
the Union Pacific Railroad, with the consequent influx of hunters
and homeseekers, a wider separation of the herds was effected,
until the two were generally spoken of as the "Northern and
"Southern" herds. With the close of the Civil War in 1865, again
the plains were visited by eager home-seekers. At this time they
found the Southern herd limited in its range to the region em-
braced by a circle with its southern side resting in northern Texas
and extending to about latitude 41 degrees on the north. This
region embraced the most prolific grazing grounds found anywhere
on the great plains.
As to the number of buffaloes in the Southern herd, we have but
little basis of scientific calculation. They roamed in such large
numbers as to defy computation. Colonel Richard Irving Dodge,
a notable frontier army officer, spoke of them in terms of "hundreds
of thousands," and in doing so seemed to admit his inability to
enumerate them. IIe said, however, that on one occasion he trav-
'Howard Stansbury, "Exploration and Survey of the Valley of the Great
Salt Lake of Utah," in Senate Em. Docs. No. 3, Special Session, March,
1851, p. 246. (Entry of Wednesday, June 27.)
'Richard Irving Dodge, Hunting Grounds of the Great West, 131.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 33, July 1929 - April, 1930, periodical, 1930; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101090/m1/43/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.