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.
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 was never a military establishment, it was a civilian run trading post.
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.
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.
Our guide, Arch, provided us with in in-depth explanation of the surrender of Sitting Bull and his murder in 1890 in South Dakota.
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 . . .