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Part of our in-depth series exploring Sioux Nation Forts

Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site
P.O. Box 148
Abercrombie, ND 58001
(701) 553-8513
History

Fort Abercrombie was established on August 28, 1858, on the Red River in Dakota Territory by Lieutenant Colonel John J. Abercrombie. Because of the threat of flooding, the fort was moved to its present location on the eastern edge of present-day Abercrombie, Richland County, in 1859. It was the first permanent United States military fort established in what was to become North Dakota and was also the only post in the area besieged by Sioux warriors for more than six weeks during the Dakota Conflict of 1862.

During the Dakota Conflict, volunteer troops manned the fort when area settlers sought shelter there. The "regular" army troops had been withdrawn during the Civil War and had been replaced by the Minnesota Volunteer Infantry. The fort was not protected by a palisade during the siege, but one was constructed soon afterward.

The fort served to guard wagon trains and steamboat traffic on the Red River and was also a supply base for wagon trains headed to the Montana border. It was at the crossroads of several major transportation routes throughout the northern plains until its abandonment in 1877.

Currently, County Road #44 runs through the center of the forth-two acre site before crossing the Red River into Minnesota. Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site is divided into two parts: the first includes recreational facilities and a local museum, and the second is the actual historic site. A reconstructed stockade, three reconstructed block-houses, and one original fort guard-house stand on the site. A cast aluminum marker mounted on a fieldstone monument is located on the east side of the parking lot in the center of the grounds. This parking lot is accessible from the county road.

Visitors can rent audiotapes at the museum for a walking tour of the fort site.

Visitation

Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site is free and open year round. The museum is open May 16 to September 15 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CDT) Wednesday-Sunday. There is an admission charge for the museum of $8 for adults, $3 for children aged 6-14, $4 per person for groups of 20 or more, and $1 per student for school tour groups.

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Further reading