December 23, 2009 3:54 PM
Picture this: retracing history.
That’s exactly what photographer Paul Horsted and two others did for a new book: Crossing the Plains with Custer. Horsted now calls Custer home. His interest in General Custer's 1874 expedition of the old west was sparked when he realized the expedition complete with 110 wagons and 1,000 men under the command of General Custer had passed right by his door almost literally. KDLT’s Stacy Steinhagen found out what inspires Horsted to go not only get phenomenal pictures but motivate the rest of us to discover our inner explorer.
Paul Horsted's journey as a photographer began in Brandon where as a high schooler he took yearbook pictures, later graduating to shooting photos for newspapers.
"I started out thinking I was going to become the greatest news photographer in the world, and then I found out about wildlife and nature and landscape photography," Horsted says.
Fast forward a bit, Horsted calls Custer home and is called to look to the past of these parts.
He says, "It's hard to imagine what it was like."
So he and his coauthors follow in the footsteps of Custer and his men on the expedition of the black hills in 1874. He estimates he put about 20,000 miles on his car following a very accurate 135 year-old map and the clues from newspaper reports, and the diaries of Custer’s men.
Horsted says, "They wrote about things that I wanted to go see."
One St. Paul Minnesota newspaper report read, "If you are ever near Slave Butte which was their name for it from the Indians, take your field glass in hand on a clear day, spend several hours looking around and you will be well paid for the time and the climbing." Horsted says, "He was describing this picture that I was able to recreate exactly what he was looking at."
Horsted says the best part of the three years spent writing Crossing the Plains with Custer: "Meeting the landowners who live along this 300 miles of trail between Fort Lincoln and the Black Hills."
Those land owners, or custodians of the historic trail, offer at times a gold mine of artifacts, from mule shoes to bullets.
Horsted says, "A lot of places out there on the prairie there's not much reason for somebody to find a bunch of horse shoes or other items, buttons and so on other than this expedition have been camped right there."
The author considers the 336 page book a guide and a challenge for others with an itch to hit the trail just like he did and all those who went before him. Horsted tells us a possible future book he's thinking of doing is South Dakota yesterday and today: a history of the towns that have boomed and grown and at one time; boomed and fell back.