Along the Lewis & Clark Trail

Trip Start Mar 04, 2005
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Trip End Dec 31, 2014


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Where I stayed
Downstream Corps of Engineers Campground - 30 amp for $14 a nite

Flag of United States  , North Dakota
Saturday, September 12, 2009

We've left North Dakota's capital city behind us and made a turn to the north.  After a short 85 mile drive we pulled into an Army Corps of Engineers park in the town of Riverdale.  This campground is located behind (below) the Garrison Dam.  This dam was built across the Missouri River in 1954 and created the countries largest man made lake.  It's a pretty impressive sight.  

After checking in at the campground we proceeded to set up 'camp'.  Ken had noticed that our big patio awning didn't look quite right.  Closer inspection revealed that it had popped out about 8 inches from the side of the coach.  Now, this is the big 'fancy' electric awning which doesn't have a manual override.  In trying to get it back up against the coach it actually fell out and extended to it's full length.  Well, three hours later, half a dozen calls (many tools-blood-much swearing-direct sunlight) to Carefree Awnings it was back up against the coach where it should be.  Parts have been ordered and will be waiting for us in Arizona.  Repeat after me, never a dull moment out here on the road (especially with a handicap mechanic)!! 

Today found us heading out in the truck for another one of our self created circle tours.  This area is full of Lewis & Clark sites along with Mandan-Hidatas-Arikara sites.  We had lots to see on todays tour. 

Lewis and Clark left St Louis on May 14, 1804 and had travelled 1,600 miles when they arrived at what is now the Knife River Indian villages.  With cold weather approaching the Corps of Discovery decided to build a fort and make winter camp amongst these friendly natives.  Their fort, named Fort Mandan, was set up across the river from the Knife RIver villages (they did not want to show favoritism to the Mandans over other tribes).

Throughout the winter Mandan & Hidatsa people visited the fort to trade corn, beans and squash.  They also shared information with the Corps of Discovery.  Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-Canadian trader who was living with the Hidatsa, came to the fort to ask about being hired as an interpreter.  Charbonneau brought along his Shoshone wife, Sakakawea (also commonly spelled Sacagewea). Lewis & Clark knew that Sakakawea's translations would be invaluable in their travels west.  They also realized having a women along would make other tribes realize that they weren't a war party. 

Needless to say Charbonneau was hired.  He and Sakakawea would spend most of the winter at the fort.  Sakakawea's son, Jean Baptiste, who Clark nicknamed 'Pomp' was born here.  'Pomp' would make the trip west strapped to his mothers back on a cradle board (otherwise known as a heavy bulky piece of wood).  On the Corps trip back east Charbonneau, Sakakawea and 'Pomp' were left at the Knife River village.  As Lewis & Clark continued their trip east they noted in their journals that Fort Mandan had been partially washed away by the Missouri River and another part had burned. 

The sites we visited today include the Lewis & Clark Interperative center in Washburn, a reconstructed Fort Mandan, the Knife River Villages National Park and the remains of Fort Clark.  All very intersting and worth the trip north...
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