No buffalo in Garden of the Gods
Regarding Kirk Mueller's painting on the front page of the May 24 Westside Pioneer, I say give Kirk high marks for art and not-so-high ones for history. In all my reading of some 250 titles over the past 10 years, I have found nothing to indicate the presence of buffalo in the Garden of the Gods.
Irving Howbert wrote that the buffalo had vacated the front range by the time he arrived in 1860. Their absence was a mystery because numerous buffalo skulls were found but no living specimens. One had to go east at least 100 miles to hunt buffalo, or west to South Park to hunt bison.
Perhaps the cause was the constant warfare between Plains tribes and the mountain-oriented Utes. Buffalo must have been reluctant to hang around those hungry warriors. And maybe those forts the Utes built atop the sandstone ridge over Red Rocks Park made them nervous so they fled east. Or maybe they ran off after the big fire of 1854, which denuded the front range and then burned all the way to Wilkerson Pass. One version said Indians started the fire to scare Lord Ruxton away. If so, they sure ruined their Front Range hunting.