Historic Fort Totten

During our drive around Devils Lake the other day, we stopped and explored the Fort Totten State Historical Site.

Fort Totten was built in 1867 - 1868 on the southern side of Devils Lake North Dakota. It is one of three forts (the others are in New York and Washington DC) named for Joseph Gilbert Totten, head of the US Army Corps of Engineers during the middle 1800s. The fort served as a military presence to maintain peace among the Native Indians and a growing number of settlers. Because the Indians in this part of the country were peaceful there were very few problems and the fort never figured in any significant battle or uprising. It also patroled the international border with Canada and attempted to control the flow of liquor traffic... a job they reportedly accomplished by drinking most of it themselves.

Used continuously as a fort until 1890, and then as a boarding school for Indian children and for other Bureau of Indian Affairs purposes, it was cared for and well-maintained when other forts of the same vintage crumbled. Because of this, Fort Totten has been called "the best preserved military fort of the Dakota Frontier-era."

Inside Bed & Breakfast Inn
Today you can visit the interpretive center, take a walking tour of 16 original buildings, visit the Pioneer Daughter's Museum, take in a show at the Fort Totten Little Theatre during it's summer performances, and stay at the Totten Trail Historic Inn bed and breakfast, an officer's quarters carefully converted into an Inn.

We didn't stay at the Inn, but we did tour it... and the rest of the fort in close detail. It was an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.

Time was getting late so we did a quick tour through the Sullys Hill National Game Preserve right down the road from the Fort. Originally designated a National Park by Theodore Roosevelt in 1904, it was changed to a National Game Preserve in 1931... only one of seven National Parks to have ever been demoted or disbanded. During our quick exploration, we did see some of the bison herd, caught a glimpse of some of the elk herd, and looked squarely into the eyes of some prairie dogs and deer.

On Sunday we're moving again. The objective is the International Peace Garden hard on the border with Canada.

More to follow later in the day...


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