Fort Mandan, established by Lewis and Clark in 1804. A hub of commerce between the westerners and first nations peoples
|Intersection of US Hwy 83 and ND Hwy 200A, Washburn, North Dakota – 38 miles north of Bismarck.||9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Daily
(Closed Sundays October 1- March 31)
|Adults $8.00 Students (K-College) $5.00|
*Admission includes the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and Fort Mandan
After visiting the Lewis & Clark Interpretative Center we traveled two miles down the road to the Fort Mandan exhibition.
When Lewis and Clark arrived in 1804, there were two Mandan towns (Mitutanka and Ruptare) and three Hidatsa towns (Awaxawi, Awatixa, and Big Hidatsa). As a group, these five towns had a larger population than St. Louis! Thus for Lewis & Clark, the winter at Fort Mandan was not so much about surviving in the wilderness as it was about surviving in an urban area. They had to get along with their neighbors, negotiate for resources, and try to understand these very different cultures.
We went into the visitor center where we watched a film on the Lewis and Clark expedition and then were taken on a tour of the replica of the Fort. It is a small “A” shaped construction that was to protect the Corps during their winter stay in Washburn. It was simple structure with sleeping quarters, some storage rooms and a forge. The original fort unfortunately burnt down, but the chronicles of Lewis and Clark and some of their party detailed the construction of the fort so they were able to authentically reproduce it.
Visiting the fort and the Interpretative Center helps put in perspective the real adventure and achievements of Lewis & Clark. North Dakota can be a challenging place to live through the winter in the 21st century, so it is hard to imagine how these explorers overcame the harsh climate and natural dangers in their journey across the continent. Personally, I am a bit of an armchair explorer so I don’t think I there would ever have been a Lewis & Clark & Hobbs.