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Portrait of an Expedition


Camped on the outskirts of the Black Hills, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry prepared to enter unrecorded country on this day in 1874. Over the next 27 days, the 1,000-man military expedition from Fort Abraham Lincoln documented their findings.

Diaries, reports and newspaper dispatches provided vivid details of events, terrain, wildlife, minerals and weather. But perhaps the most notable records were those of William H. Illingworth who took more than 70 photographs recording landscapes and encampments. A specialty of Illingworth was stereographs - 3D pictures requiring special viewers popular in homes across the country. His stereograph cards captured dramatic images ranging from Harney Peak to a grizzly bear shot by Custer. Thanks to Illingworth's camera, modern Americans have a visual record of the momentous Black Hills expedition that impacted not only Dakota Territory but the entire nation.

Dakota Datebook written by Richard Campbell


Grafe, Ernest and Paul Horsted. Exploring with Custer: The 1874 Black Hills Expedition. Custer, SD: Golden Valley Press, 2002

"The Expedition", Explore the Black Hills with Custer. Dakota Photographic LLC. http://www.custerstrail.com/index.html