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 in the bottomland area originally chosen for the fort, it was reestablished in 1860 at its present location on a high west bank of the Red River in what is now Richland County. After the post was abandoned in 1877, the town of Abercrombie formed one-half mile west of the historic fort location.
Known historically as "the Gateway to the Dakotas," Fort Abercrombie was the first permanent United States military fort established in what was to become North Dakota. It was also the only post in the area to be besieged by Dakota (Sioux) warriors for more than six weeks during the Dakota conflict of 1862. During the Dakota Conflict, Minnesota Volunteer soldiers manned the fort when area settlers sought shelter there. The "regular" U.S. Army soldiers had been withdrawn during the Civil War and had been replaced by the Minnesota Volunteer Infantry. The fort was not protected by blockhouses or a palisade during the siege, but these defensive structures were constructed soon afterward.
The fort guarded the oxcart trails of the later fur trade era, military supply wagon trains, stagecoach routes, and steamboat traffic on the Red River. It also was a supply base for two major gold-seeking expeditions across Dakota into Montana. Fort Abercrombie served as a hub for several major transportation routes through the northern plains.
After the fort was abandoned in 1877, fort buildings were sold and removed from the site. A Works Progress Administration (WPA) project in 1939-1940 reconstructed three blockhouses and the stockade and returned the original military guardhouse to the site. Beginning in the summer of 2001, a project to refurbish major portions of the WPA project and to reinterpret the site was initiated by the state historical society.
Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site is divided into two parts: a modern museum, park pavilion, and recreational facilities are located on the east edge of the town of Abercrombie; and the historic fort itself is located approximately one-fourth mile further east on Richland County Road 4, which bisects the historic site. From the parking lot on the north side of the county highway, visitors may walk around the interior square of the parade ground to view the reconstructed palisade, two reconstructed blockhouses, the original guardhouse, a reconstructed cannon bastion, several "ghosted" buildings, and informational markers describing the site
Pictures and information were provided by the State Historical Society of North Dakota
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