Sunday, July 13, 2014

North Dakota–A Fort and a College Visit

Leaving the mountains of Montana behind, the land flattened out and we began to see more farm fields.

Canola Fields

Hay Fields










Before long we crossed into North Dakota, a new state for us.

North Dakota

After an overnight stay at the Love’s Truck Stop in Williston, we turned south on Highway 85, directly into 50 miles of construction . . . what should have taken us barely an hour took over two hours to get through!  By the time we were through it, the car, truck and RV were all a muddy mess!

The construction finally ended right about the time we reached Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and the landscape changed drastically.

Driving past Theodore Roosevelt National Park












I would have liked to visit the park, we continued on towards Bismarck.  We’ll have to catch this one another time!

We arrived at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, and took a drive through in the car to select a site.  They are 100% reservable, but we didn’t want to pick a site without seeing them first – many of them were described as “double pull-thrus” and we weren’t quite sure what to expect.

We ended up taking one of these double sites,

Site 37

and we had plenty of room! 

The ranger in the booth said she would try not to put anybody on the other half of the site, but it really wouldn’t have mattered if she did.  The only bad thing was that we could only pay for 2 nights at the booth when we arrived, and then could pay for any extra days the morning of the same day – as long as nobody reserved it online in the meantime.  We needed to stay 3 nights, so we would have to pay for Wednesday night that morning, but luckily the reservation window was only good through Tuesday at noon.  There wasn’t too much risk of somebody getting the site before we could extend.

So, we settled in, and Tom, Bryce & Nicolas got busy washing the RV and car – they were a mess!  I was back to work this week, so I was busy on the computer while they were busy outside.

It was a nice quiet campground, especially during the week.  There were only a few campers there, and some fishermen along the river.

Nicolas liked this truck camper – it might be a good one for Alaska!


We took walks along the river,

Fishing on the river

and the boys played basketball and did some bike-riding.

Riding the Bike Trail

We had marginal Verizon service in the park, and it seemed to be better in the morning than in the afternoon, so on Tuesday we went up to the Commissary (a.k.a. Gift Shop) to use their complimentary WIFI.  When I was finished with work, we walked through the Fort.

Fort Abraham Lincoln

The Fort itself and a few of the buildings are open with just the entrance fee to the park, but there is also a Tour Package that you can buy for $6 per person to be able to tour the other buildings.  We just walked around the open buildings, but didn’t buy the tour option.

The first buildings we came to were the Barracks.


They were setup to appear as they did in 1875.

Inside the barracks



Heating Stove

Next up was the Mess Hall and Kitchen.

In the pantry


In the Mess Hall

Fort Abraham Lincoln had a relatively short period of use – from 1872 until 1891.  The Fort was first established as an infantry post, and then a year later as home to the 7th Calvary, under the Command of General George Custer.

General George Custer

Custer's House


Gen. Custer and his wife, Libbie, lived in this house until May, 1876,

General Custer's House

when Custer led the 7th Calvary on their ill-fated campaign against the Plains Indians at the Battle of Little Bighorn in nearby Montana.

The house was one of the buildings that required the Tour Package in order to see it, so we didn’t get to go inside – we could only peek in the windows and walk on the porch.

After the Fort, we continued to the Visitor Center.

Visitor Center

We toured the exhibits,




and learned about the history of the various inhabitants of this land.

Prior to being used as a military post, the land was home to the tribe of Mandan Indians from 1575 to 1781.  Their village, On-a-Slant Village, was a group of earthlodges built on the banks of the Missouri River.


In 1907, the land that the park is on was deeded to the state of North Dakota by President Theodore Roosevelt, making it North Dakota’s oldest state park.  The final inhabitants of the land were the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) who reconstructed the Indian Village and restored the remaining military buildings.

From the Visitor Center, we walked to the Indian Village,

On a Slant Village

and were able to look inside of some of the earthlodges.


I think we were probably supposed to be on an actual tour to go inside, but there was a tour going on and they had all of them open while we were there, so we just took a few looks inside a couple of them.

Cooking fire


The Big Hut

On our last day in we had a college tour planned for Bryce – our primary reason for stopping in Bismarck.  Our tour was scheduled for 10 am on Wednesday, at the University of Mary.

University of Mary

We met with an Admissions Counselor, an Instructor in the Exercise Science Department, and had a tour of the campus with another Admissions Counselor.




It’s a beautiful campus south of Bismarck, set on a hill overlooking the city and the Missouri River.

Student Housing

They have really strong programs in Exercise Science, Athletic Training, and Physical Therapy . . . and a really cool “Study in Rome” program that I thought sounds great . . . Bryce wasn’t as excited about it.

We really liked the school, although the buildings were a little older than I expected.  They just haven’t reached the point of being renovated yet, but maybe they will by the time Bryce is in college.  One cool thing about the campus was that most of the building are connected by passageways . . . you can get from the dorms to the cafeteria, to classrooms and the gym without ever going outside.  Not a bad feature during a North Dakota winter!!

We liked the school, but he’s still leaning toward Michigan State . . . we’ll see how he likes it when we go on a tour there in the fall!

That concluded our reason for coming to visit Bismarck, so we went back to the campground to get packed up to move the next day.  The boys also got the grime washed off the truck!

On Thursday morning, we got an early start . . . crossed the Missouri River,

Missouri River



and made our way into another new state for us, Minnesota! 

1 comment:

  1. We are in Morris, MN for the summer. Nice city park right in town if you're passing through, although I'm sure you'll be on 90/94. Go up to Lake Superior while you're in MN. University of Minnesota/Duluth is a college town, cool harbor town, lots to see and do up there.


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