Frank makes the following observation in his autobiography about the Boneyard
in describing his earlier 1861 Santa Fe Trail trip:
The long dry march was begun in the evening, and we traveled all night. For
the most part the road was hard and level, with only a few sandy depressions.
One morning a white mound appeared in the distance. I asked an old-timer what
"The bone-yard," he replied. "It's a law of the plains for
every driver to add at least one to the pile. They've been doing it for years."
Miles before the monument was reached, drivers were on the lookout for bones.
The pile was shaped like a haystack, about forty feet in diameter and thirty
feet high. Whoever got this collection a few years later, when bone-gathering
became a profitable business, had a bonanza.
Between 1868 and 1881 many western communities subsisted largely on the income
of eight dollars a ton, derived from buffalo bones. They were shipped east
to make buttons and fertilizer, and to be used by carbon works in St. Louis
and elsewhere. It was estimated that thirty-one million buffalo were slaughtered
by white men for their hides and tongue alone, while the meat was left to
rot on the plains. No wonder the Indians, who found a use for every last morsel,
cried out against such wastefulness.