Still on the trail

Trip Start Mar 04, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2014

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Where I stayed
Lewis & Clark State Park - 30 amp & water fo $15 a night

Flag of United States  , North Dakota
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We left Riverdale yesterday ( sunday ) and headed north about 40 miles before making a turn to the west.  After just under 130 miles driving on scenic backroads we pulled into the Lewis & Clark State Park.  So, in total we travelled just under 170 miles.  The campground we left was located at Garrison Dam which is the eastern end of Lake Sakakawea.  The campground we are staying at sits along the shores of the same lake which begins about 30 miles west of here.  We had been told that this is the largest man made lake in the country and we now have a much greater appreciation for just how big it is!

We spent today taking in the historic attractions in the area.  These include the confluence of the Missouri river and the Yellowstone river. It was interesting to learn that the Yellowstone river contains no dams or controls.  It is one of the few rivers that looks much as it did back in the days when Lewis & Clark came through here (finally, one we have'nt screwed up).  The confluence is believed to be the only one in the country that has not been developed.  This is because it is located on an old military post. The original survey was a 20 mile square area and since it was a military post, no developement was allowed. The closest city to the confluence is Williston, which is about 20 miles west of it. 

The military post that was located at the confluence was named Fort Buford.  This post was originally located at Fort Union Trading Post.  Fort Union sat on a bluff above the Missouri River about 4 miles upstream from the confluence.  Fort Union wasn't a military post but was instead a trading post run by the American Fur Company (John Jacob Astor was the owner for you history buffs).  It was here that Indians and trappers would bring their furs for trade.  The spot the trading post sat on was actually surveyed out by William Clark of the Corps of Discovery during their passage through the area in 1805.  Fort Union was built in 1828 and quickly became the most profitable post in the upper river region.  With the decline in demand for pelts the post gradually became obsolete and was finally closed in 1867. 

By 1866 the number of settlers heading west through the Dakota Territory had begun to increase, primarily because of the discovery of gold in Montana.  These travellers frequently came under Indian attack.  The decision was made to establish a fort in the area of the confluence.  Troops arrived in the area and set up in the area of Fort Union.  Shortly after they moved to the area of the confluence and began to construct Fort Buford ( using the buildings from Fort Union in the early construction process ) These troops came under frequent attack by the Sioux indians and over time the posting contained over 1000 troops. 

Fort Buford was used as a remount and supply post during the Great Sioux War from 1876-1879 and it was here on July 20, 1881 that Sitting Bull would surrender.  With the Indians 'contained' and the railroad successfully completed through the area, Fort Buford became more and more obsolete and it was finally closed in 1895.  Much to our surpirse the Officers Quarters building that Sitting Bull surrendered in still stands and now houses a small museum.  It is really hard to put into words how it felt to stand on the exact spot where the end of an era occured. All we can say is that if you have any interest in the history of this country Fort Buford and western North Dakota should be on your list!! 
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