We are spending two days in Jamestown, which is about in the middle of the North Dakota along I-94. The weather report called for heavy and steady rain on Tuesday so, since we don’t drive the motorhome in the rain, we opted to stay the day. Of course, it didn’t rain a bit our entire stay. But Jamestown has a few historical sites to explore, so we enjoyed the visit.
The first site is Ft. Seward, an army fort in operation for only a few years (1872-1877). There is nothing left of the fort, but it has a little visitor’s center with information about it’s history. As we entered the visitor’s center a gentleman who was watering some newly planted flowers greeted us and followed us in. While at first he spoke a bit slowly, as we listened and asked questions it became apparent that he had more than a passing knowledge of the history of North Dakota. It turns out he taught history, and other subjects for over thirty years in a small town just to the south of Jamestown, much of the time in a one room school house. We spent a very informative and interesting hour with him discussing the Civil War and the growth of the Dakotas after the war ended.
Ft. Seward was build as part of a series of forts designed to protect railroad construction crews from Indian attack. It must have been a pretty lonely and boring existence, as the Indians in the area were very quiet. The fort was abandoned in 1877 as the town had become established to the point where it could provide it’s own security.
The second site in Jamestown is the Stutsman County Memorial Museum. The museum is in the Lutz House, built by lumber magnate George Lutz. The Fort Seward Historical Society established the museum in June 1965. The four floors of the pioneer home are filled with memorabilia and photos reflecting the culture and life of the early pioneers.
The museum has a “hall of fame” of former residents of Jamestown. One is the singer, Peggy Lee whose real name was Norma Deloris Egstrom, Now why would she change her name? Some of you may remember one of her “hit” records “Is That All There Is?” from 1969. John remembers it as being one of his least favorite songs of that year!
In 1933, Jamestown celebrated its 50th anniversary. Apparently someone had the idea of taking a picture of many of the men of the town in old costumes. They then made a collage of all the photos. A closer look reveals that most of the men are wearing the same hat.
The final stop on this whirlwind tour of Jamestown was at the National Buffalo Museum. This is a small but interesting museum. It tells the story of the American Bison and it’s importance to the Indians of the Great Plains.
The museum has a large pasture area out back where they have a number of buffalo, but they all stayed in the tree lined area out of site during our visit. Three of the buffalo are rare albinos, rarely seen in the open as their eyes are very sensitive to light.
We found Jamestown to be one of those neat little towns similar to thousands of small towns across the country. Each has an interesting story to tell if you get the opportunity to talk to some of the local residents. The volunteers we met at Ft. Seward and the museum were just that type of people.
Tomorrow we will continue west about 95 miles to Bismark, the state capital. More on that later . . .