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Fort Mandan, Washburn

Fort Mandan was the name of the encampment which the Lewis and Clark Expedition built for wintering over in 1804-1805. The encampment was located on the Missouri River approximately twelve miles from the site of present-day Washburn, North Dakota, which developed later. The precise location is not known for certain and is believed now to be under the water of the river. A replica of the fort has been constructed near the original site.
The fort was built of cottonwood lumber cut from the riverbanks. It was triangular in shape, with high walls on all sides, an interior open space between structures, and a gate facing the Missouri River, by which the party would normally travel. Storage rooms provided a safe place to keep supplies. Lewis and Clark shared a room. The men of the Corps of Discovery started the fort on November 2, 1804. They wintered there until April 6, 1805. According to the journals, they built the fort slightly downriver from the five villages of the Mandan and Hidatsa nations.
The winter was very cold, with temperatures sometimes dipping to minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit (-43°C), but the fort provided some protection from the elements. Several of the men of the expedition suffered frostbite due to the severely cold conditions, which affected them even with brief exposure.
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86 reviews
  • We were in the area and we visited the Lewis and Clark Interperative Center and Fort Mandan. Fort Mandan is a re creation of the Fort that the Lewis and Clark made when over wintered here in 1804. The...  more »
  • We had stopped by the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, not knowing that this place was part of it. So we drove the mile or two down the road and were so glad that we did! They have a nice center and...  more »
  • A wonderful pictures, art, and historical museum quality items from the Native Mandan Indians and Lewis and Clark campsite and fort. An endearing history lesson.
  • The Real deal. An absolute must see while it is still supported by the State. Great detail included in the reconstructed Fort that would help all kids and adults appreciate US history during the early Discovery and homesteading period. The interpretive Center is a small concise museum that shows Lewis and Clark's historic expedition and it explains the full detail with authentic and reproduced artifacts. Together, this is an anchor Icon for USA and its an absolute "Bucket Todo List" for all.
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