Located within the state park is the reconstructed army post that became the largest on the northern plains with the arrival of the 7th Calvary and Lt Col George Armstrong Custer as the new fort commander in 1873. This would be the last place he would live with his wife until 1876 when the Seventh Calvary was sent to the Little Big Horn.
We had a guided tour of the home with history of how the Custer’s lived on the fort. There were several other buildings that could also be toured. The house was quite comfortable for the era and conditions at that time on the plains. Although many complained about the poor quality of materials at the time with concerns about the warped wood causing drafts in all the buildings.
The fort covered a large area with great views of the surrounding territory. I nearly stepped on a local resident that apparently had expired very near a walking path from the cold and wind. I can only imagine how uncomfortable the troops must have been during the winter months in ND barracks on the open plains.
Also within the park is a Mandan village reproduction that existed on this site from the mid 1500’s until the late 1700’s with approximately 1000 residents. The Mandan people would become important to the Lewis and Clark expedition in the early 1800’s. The Mandan people were not the wandering hunter/gatherers typical of the period. They built permanent villages, farmed, traded, and generally lived a settled existence in one place. We learned a great deal about these people during our tour.