JAMESTOWN The white buffalo calf stands out like a little white puff of cloud as it sleeps by the fence near the herd of brown buffalo.
Shortly, as if he wants to show himself to visitors, the calf stands up and is in full view for anyone to see and admire. Yet he stays close to the safety of the other buffalo.
The National Buffalo Museum at Jamestown's Frontier Village has the notoriety of having the only white buffalo in the world three of them.
Eloise Ogden/MDN --
The newest white buffalo at the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown was born to a brown cow May 31. Here the soon-to-be-named bull calf is shown Sept. 19 among other buffalo in the pasture between the museum and Interstate 94.
The newest calf was born May 31 to a brown cow. It is the third white buffalo at the National Buffalo Museum.
"We have the only living albino buffalo," said Felicia Sargeant, museum director.
She said the two calves born there have not turned to the brown color and all of the white buffalo have the pink eyes which are traits of albino.
Many American Indians consider the white buffalo to be sacred.
White Cloud, the eldest of the white buffalo in the National Buffalo Museum herd, was born July 10, 1996, on a farm at Michigan east of Devils Lake. Later White Cloud had calves of her own, all of normal color.
Then in 2007, White Cloud gave birth to a white bull calf which was named Dakota Miracle.
The newest white calf was born May 31 to a brown cow. A contest to name the bull calf closed Sept. 30. Sargeant said the name of the calf will be announced at a news conference Oct. 15.
The first five bison for the herd came from Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Today, the herd numbers about 30 buffalo. Each year the calves, with the exception of the white buffalo calves, are sold, Sargeant said.
The buffalo roam on about 200 acres of land on both sides of Interstate 94 that the museum leases from the State Hospital in Jamestown.
Frontier Village has even more notoriety.
The world's largest buffalo towers from high on a hill at Frontier Village.
More than 100,000 people each year visit the world's largest buffalo sculpture, going through the gates of the Frontier Village, said Sargeant. She said about 20,000 people visit the museum annually.
Standing 26 feet high, it has a length of 46 feet, width of 14 feet and weighs 60 tons. The sculpture was the idea of Harold Newman, owner and founder of Newman Signs in Jamestown. The sculpture was done by Elmer Paul Petersen in 1959 and erected by the City of Jamestown and Chamber of Commerce.
Petersen, now living in Wisconsin, returned to Jamestown last year to help Hampton's Save-A-Landmark project repaint the buffalo. Sargeant said from 1959 when Petersen made the sculpture, he never liked the size of its horns and last year he lengthened them to the size he felt they should be.
In years after the buffalo sculpture was done, buildings were moved nearby and Frontier Village developed.
The buffalo herd has been in existence since 1991 and the museum opened in 1993, Sargeant said. There is a fee to go through the museum but the gift shop and information are free of charge.
One of the significant items displayed in the museum is a cast of a skull of a giant bison, the Bison latifrons. These bison, with a horn span of about 7 feet, inhabitated North Dakota during the last Ice Age. The original skull was found by Kent Pelton of Watford City on U.S. Army Corps of Engineer land on the Fort Berthold Reservation. The original skull is in the North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismarck.
The museum staff has some special events planned before the end of the year: the 4th Annual Frontier Village National Buffalo Museum Treat Night Oct. 31 from 5 to 7 p.m. when about 1,200 children are expected to visit.
On Dec. 4, the Taste of North Dakota Open House, a mini Pride of Dakota event, will be held in the museum from 5 to 8 p.m.
The buffalo herd and the National Buffalo Museum are located at Frontier Village which is near the intersection of Highway 281 and Interstate 94 (exit 258).
The museum and its gift shop are open year round. Currently the museum is on fall hours: Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Winter hours beginning Nov. 1 are the same as fall hours but the museum will be closed on Sundays. The museum is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.