We left Jamestown on Wednesday morning and drove 95 miles west to Bismarck, where we had a reservation at the local KOA. While we try to avoid KOA parks as they are always overpriced and often have narrow sites, this was the only park we could find in the area that had decent reviews. They were very crowded but had one site with full hook-ups left and a site out in what use to be the overflow area with water and electric. We opted for the overflow area as we don’t like parking under trees. Trees always drop things on to the roof and block our satellite TV reception. When we arrived we were dismayed to find the site reserved for us had standing water and mud in front of it. But the owner said to give him an hour and he’d have that repaired. He started up his tractor and began filling the area with stone. Sure enough, in about an hour he had the area filled and smoothed to our satisfaction. While it’s not fancy, the site fits our requirements: its flat, the electricity and water are good, and it is a pull through. No one is staying in the fifth wheel next to us so we have some privacy. We don’t spend much time at the motorhome during short visits like this anyway so we’re happy with the site.
After getting set up, we drove down to the State Capitol building in downtown Bismarck. This capital building is a bit different than others we have seen in that it does not have a dome. In fact, it looks like a high rise apartment building. It was built in the early 1930s to replace the original capitol building that burned in 1930. Construction was delayed by a strike of common laborers upset at their low pay rate of thirty to fifty cents an hour. After a small riot broke out the governor declared martial law and call out the national guard to maintain order and protect the site. Ah, the good old days when people behaved in an orderly fashion! Construction was completed and the building was put into use in 1935.
The high rise part of the building is 19 stories high and is the tallest building in North Dakota. It’s nickname is “the skyscraper of the plains”.
To the right side of the capitol building is a statue of Sacagawea, the young Lemhi Shoshone woman who acted as a guide and interpreter for Lewis and Clark.
In the main lobby is a picture gallery of recipients of the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Riders Award, North Dakota’s Hall of Fame. The award is given by the governor to people from North Dakota who did something significant in their lives, in or outside the state. There are currently 37 pictures in the gallery. Some names and faces you may recognize are below.
We arrived at the capitol too late to participate in a guided tour so we may return tomorrow for that. We plan to be in Bismarck for three days before continuing our westward migration. More on that later . . .