Fort Abraham Lincoln, North Dakota
George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh Cavalry were stationed at Fort Abraham Lincoln, just south of Mandan, North Dakota. They were not the first residents of the fort, however. Originally constructed by two companies of the Sixth Infantry, Fort McKeen, as it was called then, was renamed Fort Abraham Lincoln when the Seventh Cavalry took up residence. The cavalry was stationed at the fort with the task of protecting the workers expanding the Northern Pacific Railway. The infantry built high on a bluff with commanding views of the Missouri River and surrounding areas. On the other side of the river was then the city of Bismarck, Dakota Territory. A couple of weeks ago, we featured a tour of the Custer House, home for the General and his wife until his death in 1876. You can visit that post here.
The opening image above features one of the blockhouses reconstructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. At the time of the blockhouse reconstruction, the CCC also marked cornerstones where each of the original buildings were located. The image below features a set of markers. A small signpost identifies the function of each of the over 70 buildings located on the fort. Through the years, other buildings were reconstructed, the most recent being the Custer House in 1989, a historical addition for the North Dakota State Centennial.
The fort was a self-contained city housing most services needed to support nine companies, including a post office and even a theater. The population of the fort was around 500 military personnel and support staff. In 1891, the fort was no longer needed and the buildings were disassembled for the lumber and hardware to build the growing cities of Bismarck and Mandan. Eventually the land was given to the State of North Dakota by President Theodore Roosevelt for the creation of a state park.
The image above is a view of the Missouri River from one of the blockhouse ports. The views from the blockhouses provided soldiers with plenty of warning of approaching attackers. If you look closely just left of the center in the photograph, you can see Bismarck’s only skyscraper, the North Dakota Capitol Building. You can view some shots of the Capitol taken on the statehouse grounds here. The gallery of images below feature views of the surrounding countryside as seen from the vantage point of the soldiers stationed at Fort Abraham Lincoln. Click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.