Top

IN HISTORY: 1st Custer State Park Buffalo Auction, Feb. 12, 1966

Custer State Park's buffalo herd started out in 1914 with 36 animals that then-Gov. Peter Norbeck obtained from a private herd near Fort Pierre as part of efforts to preserve the species. (Then the State Forest and Game Preserve, the area became Custer State Park in 1919.)

By the middle of the century, the herd had grown to more than 2,500, too many animals for the state park's 71,000 acres to support. The park's herd was first rounded up in 1965, and the first buffalo auction was held on Feb. 12, 1966, as documented in the book "Custer State Park" by Tom Domek. The event made the national news in a report by Bill Plant of CBS. 

The round-up and auction have been held annually since, and have drawn crowds of spectators since their inception. The 50th anniversary of the Custer State Park Buffalo Round-up drew more than 20,000 people on Sept. 25, 2015. 

The round-up and three-day festival that accompany it each September typically draw about 15,000 people. 

Each year, the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks auctions off 200 to 300 buffalo in order to keep the herd size at between 800 and 1,400 animals, depending on annual moisture and conditions.

Buffalo resting in Custer State Park

Technically, the animals are "bison," but the term buffalo is commonly used after French fur-trappers dubbed the animals boeufs, meaning ox-like animal.

You can follow Custer State Park on Facebook

Meet the Author

Black Hills Knowledge Network

The Black Hills Knowledge Network is an online community information service that connects people to local information and ideas within the Black Hills region. We work with librarians and community organizations to aggregate and organize local news, resources, data and historical archives from a variety of sources. We seek to engage citizens and educate community leaders regarding the value of local information for decision-making, with the goal of enhancing the quality of life in our communities.

latest blog posts

Black Hills Knowledge Network
Guest Blogger

The Black Hills Knowledge Network is an online community information service that connects people to local information and ideas within the Black Hills region. We work with librarians and community organizations to aggregate and organize local news, resources, data and historical archives from a variety of sources. We seek to engage citizens and educate community leaders regarding the value of local information for decision-making, with the goal of enhancing the quality of life in our communities.

View More

Latest Blog Post

  • Five Pro Tips for Roaming with Dinosaurs
    February 23, 2017 - Anne
  • A Mouth Watering Experience in the Heart of Downtown Rapid City
    January 19, 2017 - Anne
  • A Roll of Sushi for Everyone: Even the pickiest of eaters!
    January 3, 2017 - Anne
  • Latest Blog Post

  • An Oz Experience: Flying With The Oldest Balloon Company In The USA
    February 7, 2017 - Danielle
  • 3 Firehouse Brewing Co. Food Choices and Reasons for All of Them
    January 13, 2017 - Danielle
  • Latest Blog Post

  • IN HISTORY: 1st Custer State Park Buffalo Auction, Feb. 12, 1966
    February 3, 2017 - Black Hills Knowledge Network
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Basil, Tomatoes, Olive Oil, Wine…Just a few of my favs
    January 27, 2017 - Stacie Granum
  • 1,200 Degrees of Taste Bud Paradise
    January 15, 2017 - Stacie Granum
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Top 5 Spring Break Ideas for Cool Moms
    January 5, 2017 - Jennifer
  • Make Unbearably Perfect Memories at Bear Country USA
    September 11, 2016 - Jennifer
  • Take the Ride of a Lifetime at Andy’s Trail Rides
    July 14, 2016 - Jennifer
  • Latest Blog Post

  • A Black Hills Winter
    December 23, 2016 - Jesse Brown Nelson
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Travelin with Tiff: Rush Mountain Adventure Park
    December 13, 2016 - Tiffany Johnson
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Rapid City Blog: Trail System
    November 14, 2016 - Aiden Lynn-Klimenko & Madison Perrins
  • Rapid City Blog: Spearfish Canyon
    September 25, 2016 - Aiden Lynn-Klimenko & Madison Perrins
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Black Hills Powwow: A Kaleidoscope of Color
    October 30, 2016 - Kris Monroe
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Rapid City from Michaela’s point of view.
    October 17, 2016 - Michaela
  • Mount Rushmore Questions You’ve Been Dying to Ask
    August 7, 2016 - Michaela
  • Top 5 Trails Within 30 Minutes of Rapid City
    January 15, 2016 - Michaela
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Microbreweries
    September 4, 2016 - Stephen Sebestyen
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Downtown Trails and Recreation
    July 5, 2016 - Lisa
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Four Ways Rapid City Lives Up To The Hype
    June 23, 2016 - Ginny
  • The Mount Rushmore of Summer Vacations
    May 6, 2016 - Ginny
  • 6 for Summer '16
    April 22, 2016 - Ginny
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Outdoor Campus West: Free Family Fun!
    June 2, 2016 - Shiloh
  • Rapid City: 4 Paws Up!
    April 8, 2016 - Shiloh
  • Forget 12 Days of Christmas
    December 8, 2015 - Shiloh
  • Latest Blog Post

  • 3 Mountain Bike Rides to Jump Start Your Black Hills Adventures
    May 20, 2016 - Craig
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Shredding in the Black Hills
    March 10, 2016 - Bill
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Downtown Shopping
    February 25, 2016 - Sarah
  • Rapid City Myth Busting
    February 8, 2016 - Sarah
  • My Favorite Parks and Monuments
    January 29, 2016 - Sarah
  • Stay in the loop!

    Want to know when we share big things? Subscribe today, & keep up-to-date with our posts.