As part of the local community celebration known as Aber Days, Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site near Fargo will host a series of activities Sept. 18.
Activities begin at 11 a.m. with a parade down Main Street, organized by the town of Abercrombie. Following the parade, the Fort Abercrombie site will host an encampment of the 5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, Company D. These re-enactors represent the group of frontier soldiers that were actually at Fort Abercrombie during the 1862 siege. They welcome questions from visitors about frontier soldiers lives, their equipment, the siege of 1862 and more.
Site historical interpreter Paul Nelson will give a presentation about the social life of the Fort Abercrombie garrison as part of the Aber Day activities, beginning at 2 p.m. on the observation deck of the site's interpretive center.
Harold "Bud" Mahnke, Grand Forks, is an historical storyteller. He will be in period clothing and will be presenting programs throughout Saturday.
As the gateway to the Dakotas, Fort Abercrombie guarded transportation routes and served as an supply point for military campaigns in the Dakota Territory of the 1860s. The new exhibits at the 3,800-square-foot interpretive center feature this history, including the fort's role in the Dakota Conflict of 1862. They include a mountain howitzer, a cannon used to defend the fort and uniforms and equipment used by soldiers at the fort. Visitors will be able to listen to the sounds of the 1860s, such as a steamboat whistle and the squeal of an oxcart about to ford the Red River.
Congress authorized the fort's construction in 1857. The fort began operations in 1858; the last soldiers were withdrawn in 1877. It was the first permanent U.S. Army fort established in what is now North Dakota and was besieged by the Dakota (Sioux) during the Dakota Conflict of 1862. As the crossroads of several major transportation routes throughout the Northern Plains until its abandonment, it guarded fur-trade oxcart trails, wagon trains, stagecoach routes, and steamboat traffic on the Red River. It was also a supply base for wagon trains headed west to the Montana gold fields, military freight, and pioneer settlers headed into Dakota Territory.
For more information, contact Stacy Schaan at the Fort Abercrombie Interpretive Center at 701-553-8513.
Beginning Sept. 19, visitor hours will change at the interpretive center to winter hours. Through May 15 visits will be by appointment only.