The Extermination of the American Bison eBook

William Temple Hornaday
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 330 pages of information about The Extermination of the American Bison.

[Note 80:  Caught alive, but died in captivity July 26, 1886, and now in the mounted group.]

Our total collection of specimens of Bison americanus, including everything taken, contained the following:  24 fresh skins, 1 head skin, 8 fresh skeletons, 8 dry skeletons, 51 dry skulls, 2 foetal young; total, 94 specimens.

Our collection as a whole also included a fine series of skins and skeletons of antelope, deer of two species, coyotes, jack rabbits, sage grouse (of which we prepared twenty-four rough skeletons for the Department of Comparative Anatomy), sharp tailed grouse, and specimens of all the other species of birds and small mammals to be found in that region at that season.  From this matériel we now have on exhibition besides the group of buffaloes, a family group of antelope, another of coyotes, and another of prairie dogs, all with natural surroundings.

III.  THE MOUNTED GROUP IN THE NATIONAL MUSEUM.

The result of the Smithsonian expedition for bison which appeals most strongly to the general public is the huge group of six choice specimens of both sexes and all ages, mounted with natural surroundings, and displayed in a superb mahogany case.  The dimensions of the group are as follows:  Length, 16 feet; width, 12 feet, and height, 10 feet.  The subjoined illustration is a very fair representation of the principal one of its four sides, and the following admirable description (by Mr. Harry P. Godwin), from the Washington Star of March 10, 1888, is both graphic and accurate: 

A SCENE FROM MONTANA—­SIX OF MR. HORNADAY’S BUFFALOES FORM A PICTURESQUE GROUP—­A BIT OF THE WILD WEST REPRODUCED AT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM—­SOMETHING NOVEL IN THE WAY OF TAXIDERMY—­REAL BUFFALO-GRASS, REAL MONTANA DIRT, AND REAL BUFFALOES.

A little bit of Montana—­a small square patch from the wildest part of the wild West—­has been transferred to the National Museum.  It is so little that Montana will never miss it, but enough to enable one who has the faintest glimmer of imagination to see it all for himself—­the hummocky prairie, the buffalo-grass, the sage-brush, and the buffalo.  It is as though a little group of buffalo that have come to drink at a pool had been suddenly struck motionless by some magic spell, each in a natural attitude, and then the section of prairie, pool, buffalo, and all had been carefully cut out and brought to the National Museum.  All this is in a huge glass case, the largest ever made for the Museum.  This case and the space about it, at the south end of the south hall, has been inclosed by high screens for many days while the taxidermist and his assistants have been at work.  The finishing touches were put on to-day, and the screens will be removed Monday, exposing to view what is regarded as a triumph of the taxidermist’s art.  The group, with its accessories, has been prepared so as to tell in an attractive way to the general visitor to the Museum the story of the buffalo, but care has been taken at the same time to secure an accuracy of detail that will satisfy the critical scrutiny of the most technical naturalist.

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The Extermination of the American Bison from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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