Black Hills Frawley Ranch adds bison herd for historic touch

Alex Portal Black Hills Pioneer
Friday, January 10, 2020
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AP PHOTO
In this Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019 photo, an American bison roams at the Frawley Ranch near Spearfish, S.D. The herd of bison add an air of authenticity to the property of the historic ranch.

SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) — The Frawley Ranch has been an integral part of the history of the Black Hills since the Frawley Brothers began buying up failed homesteads in the Centennial Valley in the 1890s.

In 1977 the nearly 5,000-acre property became only the second National Historic site in South Dakota. There’s even a section of the original Deadwood Stage Route running through the property.

“Today it’s called the milk road, but it is actually the remnants of the Deadwood Stage (route),” said JR Hamblet, operations manager for the Frawley ranch.

A more recent addition to the ranch is the two-dozen strong buffalo herd that calls the landmark home, the Black Hills Pioneer reported.

In the early 2000s, two families with a deep appreciation for South Dakota’s western heritage purchased the land and have been restoring and maintaining it as a sort of living historical preserve.

“The owners are keenly interested in historic preservation on the entire ranch, and I think the buffalo kind of played into that,” Hamblet explained.

Hamblet said the Frawley bison bring added historical authenticity to the ranch as the animals once roamed the Great Plains in the millions. Passers-by can catch a glimpse of the American icons as they zoom past the ranch on Highway 85. The herd consists of 24 cows and two bulls; each year the females give birth, which essentially doubles the herd size until February when the calves are sold at auction to other ranches across the country.

“The ability to share the way they live and where they live with the people of the area. Just their sheer size and enormity and strength is awe-inspiring,” he said.

‘The owners are keenly interested in historic preservation on the entire ranch, and I think the buffalo kind of played into that.’

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