Credits & Sources
The Bonfire site exhibit was written by TBH editor Steve Black.
Landowners Jack and Wilmuth Skiles graciously allowed the author access to Bonfire Shelter, provided photographs, lunch, and shared memories. Jack Skiles deserves special recognition for having the curiosity and foresight to invite archeologists to investigate Bonfire Shelter. The Skiles family, including the late Guy and Vashti Skiles, have been wonderful hosts to several generations of archeologists. Were it not for the stewardship of the Skiles family, all the sites in Mile Canyon would have been plundered long ago. The Bonfire site exhibit was to include Curtis Tunnell's recollections of working with the Skiles family. Sadly, he passed away before completing the project.
Interviews with Lee Bement, Elton Prewitt, and Solveig Turpin provided many stories and recollections about their work at Bonfire. Recorded interviews of Prewitt and Turpin are housed at TARL. Photographs of the field investigations and of the site were provided by Turpin. Other photographs featured in this exhibit were taken by Steve Black, the late E. Mott Davis, Dave Dibble, Grant Hall, Roy Little, and Jeanine McDonald. Ernest Lundelius introduced Black to the Bonfire bones and shared insights and contrary opinions. Michael Collins provided new identifications of several of the site's Paleoindian projectile points.
Photographs of the 1963-1964 artifacts from Bonfire Shelter appear courtesy of the National Park Service, Amistad National Recreation Area.
Nola Montgomery Davis of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department painted the mural scenes of Bonfire depicted in the Plunge of Death section. The Ice-Age-animal drawings that appear in several sections are the work of the late Hal Story and are provided courtesy of the Texas Memorial Museum. Other drawings prepared especially for this exhibit are the work of artist Charlie Shaw.
All of the artifacts, notes, and photographs from the 1963-1964 investigations are housed at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory on behalf of the National Park Service, Amistad National Recreation Area. All of the bones from the 1963-1964 and 1983-1984 investigations are housed at the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory at UT Austin.
Much of what appears in this site exhibit is based directly on the work of the archeologists who carried out the field investigations at Bonfire, analyzed the materials, and wrote the published reports. Anyone with a scholarly interest in Bonfire should read the primary published accounts.
This exhibit was created before new investigations at Bonfire beginning in 2003 by researchers from SMU led by David Meltzer, a leading Paleoindian expert. Their new interpretations have sparked a lively scholarly debate. See 2005-2007 articles referenced below by Bement, Byerly et al., Cooper and Byerly, and Prewitt.
Bement, Leland C.
[Report on 1983-1984 excavations. Published version of Bement's 1986 M.A. thesis from UT Austin. Available online: Coahuilense.org]
2007 Bonfire Shelter: A Jumping Off Point for Comments for Byerly et al. American Antiquity, 72(2):366-372.
[Response to Byerly et al. 2005]
Byerly, Ryan M., Judith R. Cooper, David J. Meltzer, Matthew E. Hill, and Jason M. LaBelle
[Article reporting the results of new Bonfire-related investigations by SMU researchers under the direction of professor Meltzer. The article presents two findings: (1) a GIS study has found that the Bonfire locality is indeed favorablly situated for a bison jump locality and that the most logical drive route is essentially the same one that Dibble had argued for in 1968; and (2) new faunal data and new interpretations are said to cast doubt on whether Bone Bed 2 was in fact a primary kill locality (even so, the Bone Bed 2 kill or kills must have occurred nearby.)]
Byerly, Ryan M., David J. Meltzer, and Judith R. Cooper
[More on new intepretations by SMU researchers. See Prewitt 2007 for defense of original interpretations.]
2007b On an Alternative Interpretation of Paleindian Site Use at Bonfire Shelter. Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society, 78:159-160.
[Reply to Prewitt 2007.]
2007c A Further Assessment of Paleoindian site-use at Bonfire Shelter. American Antiquity, 72(2):373-381.
[Reply to Bement 2007.]
Byrant, Vaughn M., Jr., and Richard G. Holloway
[Summary of pollen data from Bonfire Shelter.]
Cooper, Judith R. and Ryan M. Byerly
Dibble, David S.
[Short article affirming Bonfire's status as a Paleoindian mass kill site and the earliest definitive bison jump site in North America.]
Dibble, David S. and Dessamae Lorrain
[Major site report on 1963-1964 excavations. This two-part report is the published version of Dibble's Ph.D. dissertation from the University of Washington and Lorrain's M.A. thesis from UT Austin.]
Forbis, R. G.
[Generally favorable review from Northern Plains bison-kill expert.]
Hevly, Richard H.
[Short article in this limited-distribution report.]
[Little-known article comparing bone tools from the Paleoindian deposits of these two sites. Johnson identified at least 10 bone tools, most of them choppers made on broken leg bones, from Bone Bed 2 at Bonfire.]
[A short article in this limited-distribution report. It provides the only published list identifying all of the animal bones found in various deposits at Bonfire during the 1963-64 work.]
Prewitt, Elton R.
[Critique of new interpretations by Byerly et al. 2005 and Byerly et al. 2007a and defense of original intepretations.]
Acker, G. Elaine
[Easy to read with many pictures and drawings; appropriate for children.]
Shafer, Harry J.
[Nicely illustrated book with short articles by archeologists and other experts. Includes vivid fictional accounts of daily life based on archeological findings.]
[Highly readable history of Langtry, Texas, based on interviews with old-timers and historical sources. Most of the stories take place within a few miles of Bonfire Shelter. See also January, 2008 article The Sage of Langtry Texas on Southwest Texas Live! by Bill Sontag to learn more about Jack Skiles.]