Fort Mandan and the Lewis and Clark Trail Washburn, North Dakota

In mid-October 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark crossed into the North Dakota Territory on the first leg of their great expedition, directed by Thomas Jefferson to find “the most direct and practical water communication across the continent”. Travelling up the Missouri River, they arrived at the Mandan Indian villages of Mitutanka and Nuptadi, which were major trading centres for numerous Native tribes and European traders. Here, they spent the winter, building cabins and a palisade wall that they named Fort Mandan in honour of their hosts, who supplied them with food in exchange for goods.