Okay, I’ll admit it. One of the reasons I visited Big Bone Lick State Historic Site was to see the bison. And they were worth it (there were calves!)–for the benefit of those who prefer not to read or scroll all the way to the end, here are a few photos.
Getting those photos took rather longer than I would have wished. I had my dog Riley with me. He’s a medium-sized dog, but when he wants to he can let loose with high-pitched yapping. Bison evidently were worthy of all the yaps he could summon. It took quite a while to settle him down to the point I could hear myself think, and so he wasn’t annoying the other visitors. The bison, on the other hand, didn’t seem to care at all. Perhaps they knew that, if the double fences between us were to dissolve, they could totally take him (they could, too, there’s a reason there were two fences).
Bison are not the only attraction at Big Bone Lick. The name comes from the number of big bones found in the area–dinosaur, mammoth, and various now-extinct species–plus the presence of a salt lick, which drew the animals. Several Native American tribes, in particular the Shawnee, used the salt lick. I didn’t take photos of the bones (most of which are in storage, the museum, or still in the ground–a museum attendant mentioned guesstimates of tens of thousands of bones still covered by earth). Nor am I going to recount the story of European-Americans discovering the bones (see the website for that, under history).
On the other hand, I walked down to the salt lick and took some photos along the way, and of salt trickling out from under a wooden platform. Following in the footsteps of the extinct animals and Shawnee, European-American settlers extracted salt and for a while the area became a health resort (of the early 19th century sort). But they didn’t exhaust the salt. It’s still there, still trickling out from the earth.