Mandan Bull Boats and Lodges
Courtesy of South Dakota State Historical Society

The expansion of the West was inevitable. The abundance of art portraying the West merely sped up the timetable. Travel was not a simple matter in the mid-1800s, and most people learned about different places from the representation of those places in art.

Through photographs, sketches, and paintings Easterners became enthralled with the romance and riches of the West. By the end of the Civil War, most Americans regarded the West as a land of opportunity, and many were eager for a fresh start.

When the Western frontier was officially closed in 1890, artists frantically attempted to capture a disappearing way of life. Even today, this same art inspires us to recall a time, not so long ago, when the buffalo roamed free. Through art, the West remains alive.