Our trip last month took us to North Dakota for a family reunion. Prince Charming and I wanted to plant a letterbox there. We decided to place it in Fort Abraham Lincoln, so it is a good time to show you around as well.
Prince Charming took me to this place a time or two when we were dating. It is an interesting place to go, so I was looking forward to it. I thought our kids would like it, too. It is still interesting and fun, but it is different than it used to be.
For starters, we were met at the entrance by a surly curt park-ranger-type person. This person had red hair. Let it be known that having two red-haired daughters makes me give ANY redhead the benefit of the doubt. She needed more than that. Not only was she far-from-friendly, but she apparently did not tell us everything we needed to know. She did inform us that is would cost us $27 to get in. (The last time I went the only fee was if I wanted to tour a specific thing, which I did not, so it was free entry.) Prince Charming’s sister was with us which added to the cost, but I could not help but think our carload could spend a week in a National Park for less money. (Turns out after checking online later that the parking fee ($5) was all that was required, but our surly host did not tell us for what we were paying. (I have no problem paying for things like this, but the price seemed unreasonable.)
First we headed to the Blockhouses. I knew the girls would like this because they were in open fields which allowed lots of running, and visitors may go inside and climb to the top.
We all enjoyed this except for our poor dog who had no interest whatsoever in climbing the ladder to the top. We eventually carried him up and down.
The view from the top is spectacular. Everyone’s favorite view must be the Missouri River, but one can see miles and miles in any direction. I like the view from the inside, too.
Outside there were some holes in the ground were military buildings (barracks, kitchens, etc.) used to be. My girls loved running down the hills the holes made.
Before leaving this area we saw a very long snake. I have no idea what it is. (I actually tried to find a way to identify it, but my quick check revealed it would not be simple.) I kept running ahead of it to get close-ups. I got a few, but it was mostly interested in leaving.
Next we went to the Mandan Indian Slant Village. The Mandan Indians were not nomadic; they were an agricultural community. They built huts into the ground. The ones here are all rebuilt.
I did not get any good pictures of the insides because our dog was in my charge by now, and he was not interested in going inside. I took him in the first one, and he nearly flipped out. I have no idea what that was about, but I just sat outside in the shade while the tour continued. (This part was a tour with an interpreter which is part of why the extra fee was required. We could have gotten by with only $5 if we did not go on this tour.) The interpreter was marginally competent (and somewhat surly). (Please understand I am not a complainer and have a good attitude almost all of the time, but this was not one of the times.) There are signs that tell all the information the interpreter gave, so it seemed a bit useless to have him there. However, I think due to some new signs since the last time I visited that they need the interpreters to be watch dogs. Apparently some visitors have no respect for anything and not only vandalize this area but do other disgusting things to it as well.
By the time the Fort was built in this area, the Mandan Indians had disappeared.
The last thing we saw, but did not tour (also part of the interpretive fee, but it was much past lunch and we had two young children) was Custer’s house. This is the reconstructed house in which he lived before his fateful journey to the Battle of Little Big Horn. I really think this would be a worthwhile tour, but I just have never done it yet.
Note: Due to the expense of getting in this place and the surly gatekeeper, we planted the letterbox outside the Fort.