Custer’s buffalo statues migrate during the year, why wouldn’t they?
Meet the woman with a love for the vibrantly painted mammals
You see them on Custer’s street corners. They’re not tourists but the vibrantly painted and one-of-a-kind buffalo that highlight the Black Hills culture and history.
What many might not know is where they came from and how they migrated to the town’s streets.
“It’s a collection that has happened probably over the last 14 years,” said Colleen Hennessy, a Custer resident and owner of many of the buffalo seen around town.
She also has her own herd in her own yard.
“Every now and then we get people asking if they’re for sale,” said Hennessy. “No, sorry, they’re not.”
The idea was born with the Custer Stampede, an auction that gave artists the chance to showcase their talents through buffalo sculptures.
“They all have such different personality and so that’s what we were honed to,” said Hennessy.
The herd is 16 head but only half the herd lives in her yard year-round. The other half migrates downtown with the exception of the General Custer statue which lives in front of the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce.
“They go down about the week before Memorial Day and they’ll come up right after the round-up,” said Hennessy. When all the other bison are rounded up, of course.
The auction ended three years ago and that’s when Hennessy and her husband offered to lend the heard downtown.
Since then, the tourist attraction has gone from calf to bison in only a few years.
“Tourists really love it,” said Hennessy. “They even come up to the house and ask if they can walk around.”
Now the Hennessy’s and their herd look out over the hills and the other buffalo during their migratory time away, waiting for visitors to say hi.
For the buffalo that migrate downtown, the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce has a map of all the buffalo wandering through the town including their names and the names of the artists who painted them.