Parks, Forts, and Oil Country

Medora, ND

We set out early (for us) Monday morning and headed east for 25 miles, then north headed for the north unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  The park is two distinct areas about 50 miles apart and our motorhome is parked next to the South Unit entrance in Medora.  The day was very windy, which is pretty much normal for this part of the country.  We thought about turning around and making the trip in the car, but the promise of great scenery in the park was reason to keep going on the motorcycle.  At the end of the day, we decided taking the car would have been a better idea.

After a wind-blown ride north to the park, we found the 14 mile road into the park was closed at the six mile mark due to a road washout.  So we didn’t get the long, scenic ride we wanted, but we did get some nice scenes in the shortened ride.

Rock Formations in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

After our brief ride through the park, we continued north into an area of the country that is definitely not experiencing a recession, or high unemployment.   Why is the western part  of North Dakota experiencing an economic boom?

This area of the country is in the middle of an oil boom.  Towns are growing at an extraordinary rate, large trucks dominate the roads, and housing is at a premium.

It seems that everywhere you look there are trailers and mobile homes.

After fighting the truck traffic for many miles, we turned off the road to visit one of the objectives of our trip.  Fort Union was a trading post along the Missouri River that served as the main center of interaction between Indian tribes and white traders in the West.

Fort Union

Fort Union was never a military establishment, it was a civilian run trading post.

Fort Union Main Gate

Note the small window at the left of where the young lady is standing.  If there was any indication of hostility from the Indians, the gates were shut and trading would be done through the window.  If no hostility was detected, trading would be done in the room just inside the gate.  Below is the Bourgeois House, where the manager of the fort would live.  It now contains a small visitor’s center run by the National Park Service.

The Bourgeois House

About four miles down the road, at the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, is the remains of Fort Buford, an infantry post that was one of the longest utilized forts in the west, open from 1866 to 1895.  At its peak, the fort was home to over a thousand troops.  But it is most famous as being the site of the surrender of Chief Sitting Bull in 1881.  The commander’s house is the only original building left on the fort.

Fort Buford Commander’s House

Our guide, Arch, provided us with in in-depth explanation of the surrender of Sitting Bull and his murder in 1890 in South Dakota.

With Arch in the room where Sitting Bull surrendered

After a long, windy ride across deserted prairie, we returned back to the motorhome in the early evening.  After just under three hundred miles and ten hours on the road, we ate a quick meal and headed for bed exhausted.

But tomorrow is another day of exploration, more on that later . . .

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2 Responses to Parks, Forts, and Oil Country

  1. Marsha says:

    I love those concertions. They look like the wall has growths coming out of it.

    We just saw a special on the oil boom in ND. It is just amazing how many jobs are in that area. It was really interesting though that the report was telling people not to come yet…there is not enough housing. It also address RVers. The report talked about all these people driving their RVs up so they could get a job. BUT THE PROBLEM is that there aren’t even enough hook ups for these RVs…no water, electric or dumps. The newsman also said that the people going up there do not understand the brutal winters and people weren’t bring the correct clothes. Just an amazing story.

    Interesting about the window and the trading. Does that lovely lady take the money in today’s trading? How cool about Chief Sitting Bull. Would be interested in learning more about him.

    300 miles…what the heck? You two are in vacation mode for sure. Better slow down or you will get burn out like we are starting to feel.

    • placestheygo says:

      It seems everything you saw in your TV special on The Oil Patch area is still true. The park ranger said the RV’s are a problem because no one thought ahead to set up regulations. People just started “parks” every where without proper hook up…yuck! The truck traffic is just unbelievable!!!. I guess crime is way up also. Several people we spoke with won’t go near the area.

      There was an article in the paper the other night about the medical shortages. They need doctors but there is no where for them to live. Housing or lack of it is causing quite a problem.

      It was an experience for us but that was what I wanted to see. Pam

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