Exploration - Expeditions And Surveys
On The Outskirts
In Through The Out Door
The construction of Fort C.F. Smith just a mile north of the canyon’s mouth brought the U.S. military into the area. They expanded knowledge of the canyon by incident and accident. Captain Nathaniel C. Kinney and a small party of woodcutters sighted Black Canyon in the late summer of 1866. Their goal was to procure timber for the fort, not make further inroads into this beautiful, yet mysterious canyon.
Over a decade after the fort had been abandoned, Colonel A.W. Brackett took it upon himself to lead a small party to investigate the wondrous stories about Black Canyon passed down by Fort C.F. Smith’s former inhabitants. They found the stories to be true, but did not delve further into the area’s magnificent landscape.
Looking to put a railroad through the canyon, another party would arrive in 1893. G.W Pease led this second survey party, mainly on a set of ice skates, as they traversed the frozen chasm that winter. By the time the railroad surveys were finished the canyon area had been mapped, but to the general public it would still be a mystery waiting to be discovered.
The 1863 Bighorn Expedition went in search of gold, instead the party’s 15 men found misery and had to fight for their survival
On August 30, 1866, Captain Nathaniel C. Kinney's party sighted Black Canyon. They were the first to record a desrciption of this magnificent wonder.
The 1879 Exploration of Black Canyon left this impression on Colonel A.W. Brackett: “I have never been more impressed by any object of natural scenery on this earth.
Edward Gillette and N.S. Sharpe’s 1891 Canyon Trek subjected them to an enchanting and sometimes terrifying winter experience.
The Burlington Railroad’s 1893 Canyon Survey party literally ice skated through Bighorn Canyon.
Did You Know?
Of the 739 documented plant species at Bighorn Canyon, 14% are non-native. These invasive species can lead to fire hazards, degrade habitat, and cause soil erosion. More...