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North Dakota L&C Interpretive Center / Fort Mandan

Entry Sign...
In 2005, I was considering two vacations. Disneyland's 50th anniversary, or the bi-centennial of the Corps of Discovery's trek across an unknown country called the United States.

I have to admit, Disneyland was fun.

However in 2006, circumstances had be going out to the Pacific Northwest. I did do a bunch of Lewis and Clark sites from Fort Mandan to Fort Clatsop, technically still during their bi-centennial.

Fort Mandan (or the reproduction in an approximate location) was the first L&C stop on my 2006 trip.

The Visitor's... uh... Interpretive Center is about a mile from its location to the Missouri River (where the fort is located) and of course has a Mandan/North Dakota focus. It's the local focus that makes all the different visitors centers... different from one another, but they all have a common set of elements, such as the members of the Corps, the routes they took, who they met, and how they did it.

Lewis and  Clark Route
Cropped map of the Corps of Discovery's route. Click on the map for a larger view.
I was plagued by the dreaded Tour Bus here (a bane to any traveler not on a tour bus), and wasted time taking outdoor pics of the interpretive center. When I got to the fort (which has its own Visitor's Center), the tour group of two or three dozen had finished with the introduction movie in the auditorium, and was leaving for the fort itself.

So I got a private showing of the intro film, which featured Ken Burns, Dayton Duncan and Stephen Ambrose. It was like an extension of Burns' Lewis and Clark documentary with a Fort Mandan focus. After the movie, I got what was essentially a private tour of the fort.

It was very cool...
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North Dakota Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center
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The fort is a reproduction in the best guess location, and even with floor plans and drawings, it's difficult to picture the fort unless you've been there. Oh, like 10 guys (and these were not small guys) would inhabit this room, with half sleeping on the second floor? Must have been cozy.

As a side note, the interior room panoramics were done with techniques that weren't developed until years after my visit. The images I had just happened to have enough overlap and consistency for a pretty good result.

Fort Mandan
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Related Links:

Lewis And Clark
Lewis And Clark Link I've visited a few Lewis And Clark sites, from Philadelphia to the Pacific Northwest.
Visited Various.

Trip Report: Jul 2006.

Return to: State Index North Dakota State Page Historical Sites

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