Sitting on the North Dakota/Montana border, a trio of historic sites date back almost 200 years.
The three are chock-full of American history and can be a great summer destination for history buffs or anyone who happens to travel through the area.
Becky Farr gives us a brief rundown of a few interesting things you can find in the northwest part of the state — some of which can explain the development of North Dakota.
Fort Union Trading Post was one of the first things out on the plains in this region.
“We’re a little off the beaten path – we’re not on a major highway – so a lot of our visitors come looking for Fort Union, they don’t usually happen by our site,” says Lisa Sanden, Park Ranger.
About 15,000 visitors come every year, especially fur-trade enthusiasts looking to learn about trade networks from the 19th century.
“Think of this much more as a store than a military fort,” Sanden says. “It’s the Walmart of its time.”
The experience visitors get is like taking a trip back in time. “They’ll look like a person from that time period and they’ll be able to delve into the trade network and partnership and how trades at Fort Union would have happened,” Sanden says.
There are more than a million artifacts found at the site, and of course furs from that time can be found there, too — like buffalo, wolf, deer, and fox.
Nearby is Fort Buford, another prime spot for history buffs. Bult in 1866, it was a military post that guarded the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers. “The U.S. Army was chasing the Sioux and anyone that looked like a Sioux,” says Ben Gjorven, a Living Historian.
The military post was in use for nearly 30 years.
Just a half-mile east lies more history in the Confluence Interpretive Center. “That’s where Lewis and Clark first looked over the confluence,” says Joseph Garcia, the Site Supervisor.
The museum features the work of local artists, photos and exhibits that display the area in its early history, which look a lot different compared to how it appears today. “It’s hard to imagine that this region would have been more like Florida than it is like the badlands of today,” Garcia says. “You would have had dinosaurs and this early form of crocodile.”
These three sites are open through Labor Day with several events taking place.
One is this weekend: it’s the Indian Arts Showcase and Pow Wow.
Click here for a list of this summer’s events at North Dakota historical sites.