1879 Exploration of Black Canyon
On May 17, 1879, Brackett rode out with several officers, along with a small detachment of the 2nd U.S. Calvary, to see Black Canyon for himself and “the great canon of the Bighorn Mountains.” In addition, they would view the ruins of Fort C.F. Smith, abandoned over a decade before. Riding hard over the next two days, the men were camped at the ruins on the night of May 18th.
The Greatest Sublimity
The party rode sighted elk, buffalo, bighorn sheep and white tailed deer on the opposite side of the canyon. They followed along the northern rim to where it entered Bighorn Canyon at a right angle, Brackett estimated that it was 30 miles in length. After spending the night once again at the ruins of Fort C.F. Smith, the expedition returned to Fort Custer the next day.
On the Map
Did You Know?
Long before the Bighorn River was tamed by the Yellowtail Dam, the roiling waters through the canyon were feared. During spring snowmelt, the water turned into a raging torrent, a combination of whirlpools, rapids, and eddies. Conversely, the river through the canyon had a reputation for being placid by late summer, when dry heat and lack of rainfall turned it into a sedate stream. More...