In the 140 years since the defeat of George Armstrong Custer and
his troops at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, scholars and other
visitors have combed the site of today's Little Bighorn Battlefield
National Monument for evidence that might clarify the controversial
events of June 1876. In Photographing Custer's Battlefield, Sandy
Barnard, an expert on Custer and the Little Big Horn, presents the
work of the site's most dedicated photographer, U.S. Fish and Game
agent Kenneth F. Roahen (1888-1976), revealing further mysteries of
the battlefield and showing how it has changed. Barnard opens by
introducing readers to Roahen, who spent the last phase of his
career and his retirement years in Montana, where he made it his
personal mission from the 1930s to the 1970s to photograph what was
then called Custer Battlefield. Among Roahen's most useful images
are his photographs of the Crow's Nest, the Morass, and Girard's
Knoll - places whose precise locations have long been debated. He
also made a series of pioneering aerial photographs of the Little
Big Horn and its surrounding landscape. When paired with Barnard's
modern-day photographs, maps, and thorough analysis, Roahen's
images provide valuable information for visitors to the monument as
well as for historians, biologists, engineers, and other government
employees who interpret, preserve, and protect the battlefield and
its surrounding terrain. In addition to showing sites associated
with the fighting, Roahen's photographs depict
mid-twentieth-century roadwork, archaeological surveys and
restorations, and construction of the visitor center, park housing,
and maintenance facilities. Barnard's matching photographs, taken
in 2012 and 2013, help to identify additional subtle but
significant landscape modifications. The numerous debates
surrounding the Battle of the Little Big Horn have made
on-the-ground evidence especially important. Roahen's photographic
legacy, explored here in more than 300 historic and contemporary
images, offers fresh insight into the battlefield's ever-changing
landscape, helping visitors old and new to better understand the
history beneath their feet.
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