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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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Fort Mandan Reviews
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87 reviews
  • Visited while following the Lewis & Clark trail. Very interesting. Guide was excellent and very knowledgeable about the fort. Was not as big as I expected. Worth visiting.  more »
  • 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...  more »
  • A great visit to though historic site and re-creation of Ft Mandan. The tour costs $8.00 per person and covers the Interpretive Center as well as Ft. Mandan. The ladies providing the tour were fantastic, very knowledgeable and good communicators. Don't be shy if driving a big RV and towing a car. There is a turn around loop next to Ft Mandan. No problem with a 42 motor home towing a car. I parked on the side of the road facing out.
  • Great place to go, the tour was amazing. The park was so clean and well kept. The tour guide was so informative. Will definitely visit again. Did not disappoint
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