Bulletin No.


Document Type



Department of Wildlife and Fisheries


This is an attempt to show man's impact on the Black Hills, a natural forest in western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming. This region up to less than a century ago was under "total management" by Nature through rain, hail, snow and ice storms, tornadoes, ravages of insects, and frequent fires caused by lightning or by humans.
Although the Black Hills are not historically old in terms of settlement by the white man, geologically they are among the earth'.s oldest features in North America. Ponderosa pine appears to have been the natural dominant forest for eons. This prevailing forest, together with interspersed prairie openings, was maintained by natural forces. Since. the intrusion of white settlers and subsequent movement of other people into the Black Hills, drastic changes have occurred in the forest and the wildlife it supports.
Concern for the forest appears to have developed in the late 19th century when the greater portion of the Black Hills was set aside by Congress as one of the first national forest reserves in the country. This publication not only considers these major changes, but also documents photographic sites from the Custer Black Hills Expedition in 187 4-sites that can be used for ecological and other studies in centuries to come. Fortunately, many of these original 1874 glass negatives and other photographs have been preserved i n appropriate archives (See Appendix). By comparing "then and now" scenes an appreciation can be gained of the vegetational and manmade changes which have occurred at some sites over the past 100 years. With my associates., weeks were spent in the field attempting to locate key rocks and other prominent features so that our camera could be set at the precise spot upon which pioneer photographer Illingworth set his tripod in 187 4. We were not totally successful as several sites were not found before field study was terminated.


South Dakota Black Hills photographic history comparisons



Publication Date









South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station, South Dakota State University