Sunday, May 23, 2010

Custer expedition on the plains

Veteran photographer and writer Paul Horsted never fails to entertain – and enlighten. Those traits keep him in demand on the speaking circuit.

His latest venue was today (5/23/10) at the Bay Leaf Café in Spearfish, where he led members of the Lawrence County Historical Society through the chronology and geography of General George Custer’s massive 1874 expedition to the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Horsted, who lives north of Custer, South Dakota, noted that the Custer trek was “better documented than any other military expedition of the Old West.” Much of that 19th century documentation was revisited, then reversioned, by Horsted and his co-author Ernest Grafe for their 2002 publication Exploring with Custer – The 1874 Black Hills Expedition. Many maps, documents, and Illingworth photographs are included.

Today, Horsted employed a lively multi-media presentation to tell “the rest of the story” about the expedition. Exploring with Custer dealt with the Black Hills area. His latest endeavor – Crossing the Plains with Custer – is a companion book that traces the Custer expedition from Fort Lincoln in north Dakota Territory to the Black Hills, including their journey back to the fort.

In his books, Horsted also uses his “then and now” display of historic photographs juxtapositioned with his contemporary photography from the same vantage point. It’s a powerful technique that has served him well – especially his book The Black Hills, Yesterday & Today. You can find more about Horsted at his on-line site, Paul Horsted - Dakota Photographic, LLC.

Following his presentation, Horsted took time to answer questions and visit with folks who attended the gathering. Above, he chats with historian David Wolff (center) and Lawrence County Historical Society president Jerry Bryant (right).

During the business meeting of the society, Bryant updated members on the status of trying to save the Trojan School, which he conceded may be difficult to do. In any event, he suggested that the society play an active role in doing what it can to preserve the structure.

Bryant then asked David Wolff to provide an update on the Fassbender photo collection. Wolff noted that there is some lack of agreement over the value of the old collection, providing something of a stumbling block. For the moment, the project seems to be on hold.

There was also a brief discussion about the prospect of acquiring dedicated space for the Lawrence County Historical Society in the new Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center in Deadwood. Considerable enthusiasm was voiced for such an arrangement, and LCHS president Bryant said the board would meet in the near future to discuss the matter.

Finally, members were reminded of the forthcoming LCHS spring tour planned for Sunday, June 13th at 8:00 a.m. More information can be found in an earlier posting about the spring tour.