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Tag: Education

Revisiting the 1874 Black Hills Expedition

January 20, 2024

Photographer Paul Horsted has meticulously studied the past to better understand the present. His latest book, Exploring with Custer: The 1874 Black Hills Expedition: Revised 4th Edition, was released in 2023, updated for the 150th anniversary of Custer’s Black Hills Expedition.

Horsted will discuss and display the updates to his book at an event sponsored by the SDHC Speakers Bureau at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, at the St. James Parish Center in Edgemont.

The latest edition of Exploring with Custer contains 36 pages of new discoveries, including recovered artifacts, unique landmarks, wagon ruts, and information about area museum displays. Additionally, a Lakota scholar shares her reflections on the Black Hills and the 1874 Expedition in an essay. An included trail guide provides readers with greater insight into daily life, as well as current road conditions and land ownership changes. All 50 of the 1874 photo sites are matched with modern photos for a view of “then and now.”

Horsted has produced five books featuring pairs of past and present images. “In the past 20 years or so, I’ve specialized in locating the sites of historic photos and then attempting to place my camera in exactly the same position the earlier photographer used in order to match their photo as precisely as possible,” he said. “I’ve now done this at hundreds of sites around the Black Hills and South Dakota and in 24 National Parks – from the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the summit of Black Elk Peak, and literally from coast to coast.”

This work is satisfying because it blends several of Horsted’s passions. “I sometimes think of it as a treasure hunt, but it also feeds my interests in history and photography,” he said. “I look at an old photo and wonder if I can find the site and what it might look like today. Finding that site and creating a matching image to learn about history and to reveal what is now different and what remains the same after, say 150 years, is what drives me.”

Regarding lessons he’s learned, Horsted noted, “As humans, we have difficulty noticing gradual change. These photo pairs help us appreciate change over time, when 100 years is suddenly condensed to a side-by-side image of past and present. We can then judge how we’ve done with what was once a more natural environment. Perhaps we can strive to pay more attention to that to preserve what still remains from the past, or even restore it if something is missing.”

Horsted hopes his work will encourage people to consider the many effects of the changes shown. “At the same time we enjoy looking at this history, we try to learn from mistakes of the past and attempt to do better in the future,” he said. “This expedition meant something entirely different for Indigenous people and we shouldn’t forget that.”

Horsted will appear at the 2024 South Dakota Festival of Books, Sept. 20-22 in Brookings, to discuss Exploring with Custer, as well as his other work, in more detail.

The Revised 4th Edition contains 336 pages, 260 photographs, and 135 maps. The softcover is available to purchase for $49. A limited number (1,000) of signed and numbered hardcover copies are available for $99.

For more information, visit, or contact SDHC at (605) 688-6113.

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