Waiting hours for a herd to pass

As the emigrants pushed west along they Platte River, they would have their first encounter with a great western legend--buffalo.

Emigrant John Wyeth:
"We saw them in frightful droves as far as the eye could reach; appearing at a distance as if the ground itself was moving like a sea."

Emigrant William Kilgore:
"Buffalo extended the whole length of our afternoon's travel, not in hundreds, but in solid phalanx. I estimated two million."

These immense herds sometimes blocked the way of the emigrants--one wagon train had to wait two hours for stampeding buffalo to pass by. The emigrant's first reaction was to temporarily abandon the journey and rush off on a buffalo hunt--not for food, for sport.

Unlike the Native Americans, who used nearly every part of the buffalo, the emigrants often left the carcasses to rot--contributing to near-extinction of the species.

Emigrant Isaac Foster:
"The valley of the Platte for 200 miles; dotted with skeletons of buffalos; such a waste of the creatures God had made for man seems wicked, but every emigrant seems to wish to signalize himself by killing a buffalo."