What was once the winter home of the Lewis and Clark expedition from 1804-1805 has now been fully reconstructed for visitors to explore. Today the furnished quarters invite sightseers to imagine the lives of the Corps of Discovery struggling to survive the North Dakota winter more than 200 years ago. Also on site is a visitor center, picnic area, and cross country skiing trails for winter use. Along with a visit to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center just a few short minutes to the east, visitors have the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what life was truly like on the Lewis and Clark expedition.
On November 2, 1804, the expedition came to the place where they built their winter quarters. Lewis wrote, “This place we have named Fort Mandan in honour of our Neighbours.” Clark “fixed on a place for to build a fort and Set to work.” As described by Gass, “the huts were in two rows, containing four rooms each, and joined at one end forming an angle. When rasied about 7 feet high a floor of puncheons or split plank were laid, and covered with grass and clay; which made a warm loft. The upper part projected a foot over and the roofs were made shed-fashion, rising from the inner side, and making the outer wall about 18 feet high. The part not enclosed by the huts we intended to picket. In the angle formed by the two rows of huts we built two rooms, for holding our provisions and stores.”
The historic site of Fort Mandan is located on privately-owned land along the northeast banks of the Missouri, about 12 miles west of the city of Washburn. The exact location is unknown and may be partially submerged by the river. A modern reconstruction of Fort Mandan and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, managed by the North Dakota Department of Parks and Recreation, is located about ten miles downriver.
Exhibits in the Fort Mandan Visitor Center reveal that winter in greater depth, while a children’s play area allows young visitors to discover history with costumes, camp supplies, and more. Our museum store offers a great selection of souvenirs, beverages, and snacks.