We traveled I-94 to Bismarck, ND where we stayed at KOA Bismarck. This area was all under construction, but as there are few places to stay we chose this park. The next day we headed north about 38 miles to Fort Mandan. This is the Fort that Lewis and Clark and 42 others built for the winter of 1804/05 along the Missouri River. The unusual note about this Fort was the fact that the expedition stayed here for 215 days. A lot of time spent on a journey that they wanted to accomplish in two years. Unfortunately after they left the Fort, it burned down and there is no evidence of where the actual location was. A re-creation has been built in a beautiful cottonwood grove along the Missouri River near where they suspect the original Fort was. At this site, they paid tribute to Merriwether Lewis' Newfoundland dog, Seaman, who was a great travel companion. We learned of how ingenious Lewis was in preparing for his journey West. He had a foundry pour lead cylinders that could hold gun powder and keep it dry. When the powder was used they could melt down the lead and make muskets for their rifles. He ordered 50 cylinders for the trip at a cost of $26.33. The $.33 was for shipping of the cylinders to Lewis. We visited the Intrepretive Center before going to the Fort and at both places, the staff was very knowledgeable and helpful. As Dale has a real interest in Lewis & Clark history this just whetted his appetite to see more of this historic trail.
We drove back into Bismarck to visit the state capitol. In my experience in visiting most state capitol buildings, they are built with a dome shape roof of some sort. Not so in North Dakota. Their capitol is a very modern building with what looks to me like a high-rise apartment attached to the side. Not what I expected and quite honestly very disappointing. Sometimes a traditionalist at heart!
A final note as we leave North Dakota. This is a beautiful state and one we will visit again. Although oil is the big industry in western North Dakota, it is known as the Number One State in Agriculture. It ranks first in: Spring wheat, Durum wheat, Sunflowers, Barley, All dry edible beans, Navy beans, Pinto beans, Canola, Flaxseed, Dry edible peas, Lentils, and honey grown on 39 million acres. Nearly 90 percent of the state's total land area is in farms and ranches with 30,000 family farms and ranches. Quite an underrated state!