Wednesday, July 24, 2013

7/23 Vore Buffalo Jump,WY

This is an interesting place I almost passed by.  I saw this huge white teepee as I drove along I 90, but I was mostly focused on stopping at the visitor center at the next exit to get some maps and information on what there might be to see on my way west.  They suggested I drive back along the service drive a couple of miles to this place.  There is not much visible from the road but this huge teepee and a small building. 

As this sign describes, a buffalo jump was a place where for centuries Native Americans herded buffalo and finally encouraged them to stampede over something so they could easily kill them if they had not died in the jump.  In this case, there was a natural sinkhole.  The animals ran because they did not know the sinkhole was there because it was hidden over a slight rise.  Those that did not die in the fall were quickly killed.  All were butchered where they fell and the meat processed by drying on the area around the sinkhole.  Bones were left in place and became covered with layers of silt and dirt.  Over centuries, the hole filled with 40 feet of bones.

This was discovered in the construction of the interstate highway when engineers saw the sinkhole and drilled holes to determine how stable it was to build the roadway over it.  When they found bones, they moved the highway and called in archeologists from the University of Wyoming.  The site was donated by the owners to a non-profit organization which manages it today, along with the U of W.

The teepee building was recently donated by a local log cabin building company and is worth seeing in itself.  It is covered with white plastic, but inside has some gorgeous beams.  It smelled of new wood and is beautifully made and varnished.  I could live here! 

You have to walk down this path to get to the dig site in the building shown here.

Here is the current dig site.  There are older ones which have been covered up.

Check out this buffalo's skull with horns attached.

And if you look closely, you can see a 6" spear point. 

This site has been given some really negative reviews on TripAdvisor by some people who obviously did not pay the fee or walk to the bottom of the pit and go inside the building.  One said the dig had been covered by a mudslide this spring.  Considering that it has been in this permanent building for several years, that is clearly not possible! 

More information on this site is available at 

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