Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fort Union Trading Post NHS, ND/MT

After visiting the Bear Paw Battlefield in Chinook on Tuesday, July 17, we drove on down Route 2 to Glasgow, MT. It was too warm (90's) to drycamp and run the generator all night for the A/C, so we opted for Shady Rest RV Park. Nothing fancy here, and the 50A service was weak, so we couldn't run all three units at once, but that was ok. We ran the bedroom unit and it did just fine. We got up Wednesday and headed for the North Dakota stateline. It takes as long to drive across Montana as it does Texas it seems.
We had done a little research and found that ND had little in the way of National Parks & Monuments.  But we knew we wanted to take in the trading post, which is located on the stateline, literally!
 We parked in Montana and walked across the line to ND where the post sits.  Most interesting.  I thought it amusing that the park service put these little reminders up for one to notice the set up here. :))
From Wiki:  Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site is the site of a partially reconstructed trading post on the Missouri River and the North Dakota/Montana border twenty-five miles from Williston. It is one of the earliest declared National Historic Landmarks of the United States. The fort, perhaps first known as Fort Henry, was built in 1828 or 1829 by the Upper Missouri Outfit managed by Kenneth McKenzie and capitalized by John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company. Today, the reconstructed Fort Union memorializes a brief period in American history when two cultures found common ground and mutual benefit through commercial exchange and cultural acceptance.
 The original structure was disassembled around 1880 and reconstructed east about a mile and renamed Fort Buford, which today is a state park.
 Much of the internal structure was not rebuilt in the 60s when the site was rebuilt and declared an NHS.  But the guide sheet explains where all the original buildings stood at the time.
 The large beams on the ground above, and others located on the opposite of the post represent the locations of the former structures.
 And the info plaques also tell part of the story of the fort as well.
 This lovely mansion-type structure housed the post commander and other managers and leaders at the time.

 The ranger dressed in period clothing was role playing as a trader and gave a talk on the post and just how the trading took place, and all the events necessary to have a successful negotion with all the parties of Indians coming from far and wide to trade their furs and other wares. for the eastern products brought to the post from the steamers sailing up the Missouri.
 Above, beaver pelts, and below a buffalo fur.  We were in shorts and tee shirts as it was in the 90s and very humid.  In fact it sprinkled a little while we were listening to the talk.  This ranger was sweating pretty good!
 In this room, in front of the fireplace, buffalo rugs were laid on the floor, and the parties settled in and began the 6-8 hour of ceremony and formalities before the actual trading took place.  The ceremonies were necessary.  It got everyone in a happy and trusting environment where the best negotiations could ocurr.
 Here a few of the period items that were in the trading posts inventory.  Some of these items were part of the "gift" inventory that the post traders gave the Indians as a good will gesture, to get the mood right, so to speak.  Some of these gifts were pretty elaborate, like the colorful uniform coat above, or perhaps a prized Jim Bowie knife, or a much desired Spencer repeating rifle.  Below was the Quatermaster's table and log book of items traded.
 It was hard for me to fathom the fact that the river bank at the time was just to the right of the tall brown grass below.  The steamers and Indian boats/canoes tied up with 50 yards of the Fort's gate.  The river's couse has changed over the past 130 years to it's present cousr (above) about a half mile away.  Wow!
 Well, it's hot, and threatening a storm, so we scurried on out of the Fort and headed for the big wheels in Montana.  (We are standing in North Dakota above, remember?)  We need some A/C quick.  We are both in need of cool air and a shower.
So we left North Dakota for Montana, only to cross back into North Dakota (confusing?) on down ND routes 89 & 200 and on into Watford City.  Oh, do you remember reading recently about the oil boom in North Dakota?  Well, we were right smack dab in the middle of the boom area.  It was kinda exciting, but scary.  And it got real scary.  More about that in the next blog.  Till then, RVing Beach Bums looking for a shady spot in Watford City, ND.