Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Williston, North Dakota

August 12 - 14, 2016:

It’s another drive along the High Line, route 20, which has been a good ride.  Again we pass through several small rural farm towns and the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.  I stopped at Culbertson to check out their Main Street with a nostalgic, quiet, all american, small town feel to it.

Church on the prairie

I felt like a "Storm Chaser"

Culbertson's Hometown Market

County Fair is coming to town

The final 20 miles of route 20 in Montana becomes bone rattling rough, had to slow down, then I entered North Dakota where the road became smooth as glass.  North Dakota also immediately looked more prosperous with new businesses and construction along the highway.  Our destination, the Lewis and Clark State Park was about 20 miles northeast of Williston, ND, past a giant Halliburton Yard and many large oil rigs in the prairie.  The campground sits on the shores of Lake Sakakawea.

After setting up in the campground, we do something out of the ordinary for us, we sit outside and have a beverage.  Immediately a man in a nearby campsite comes over starts talking to us.  It’s the usual; where are you from, where are you going stuff and he is a most talkative friendly local guy who seemed set on telling us where we should go in North Dakota.  They were the usual weekend camper types that go to the local park, put out the grill, chairs, tables and basically just sit there eating and drinking all weekend.

The Lake has much boating and fishing, but
is not so interesting

Lewis was mistaken for an Elk and shot by another
member of the expedition in this area

The population of Williston has increased hugely in recent years due to the oil and gas industry.  This area in North Dakota is now the largest oil producer in North America, larger than the Yukon.  The oil glut and price downturn has impacted this area quite heavily in the past year. 

The wheat fields and oil rigs seem endless

On Saturday we go to the Chokecherry festival in downtown Williston, but don’t stay long.  It’s mostly fair food, a dog competition, a children’s area and a few music acts during the day.  I expected to sample some chockcherry bakery items, but there wasn’t much for sale, weird since it is the Chokecherry festival ?
Main Street Williston was about deserted on a Saturday with the festival going on.  There are a few nice shops, cafes, bars and a couple of movie theaters, but nothing to get really excited about.  Until I saw the former Hedderick Store, the largest store in Williston, built in 1914.  The store has been transformed into a museum, huge used bookstore, antique store, amazing solar powered model railroad layout and cafe.  Inside the owner showed me his International fire truck used in Williston for over 40 years.  He also has a 1929 Dodge Brothers sedan behind it and told me to be sure to see his Locomotive at the Train Station.  WhenI mentioned that I was a member of the Dodge Brothers Club he was very interested in the the club.  He claims that the Dodge was used by a local Rum Runner  This place is a top attraction in Williston, don'y miss it !

At the Laundromat there are dedicated machines for the "greasers"

Downtown Williston, North Dakota

Nice brickwork at the Tattoo Parlor

The place to go in Williston

International fire truck used in Williston for decades

1927 Dodge Brothers "Rum Runner" sedan

Mallet Locomotive on display at Train Station

We take in a history lesson on Sunday at the Missouri - Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center, Fort Buford and the Fort Union Trading Post.  The Yellowstone River merges into the Missouri River here which made it a very important transportation and trade hub in earlier years.  This area was a major trading center for the native Indian tribes way before the white man came on the scene.  It went to a new level when the fur trading companies set up Trading Posts along the Missouri River.
Fort Union Trading Post was the largest Trading Post in the area as the river boats were able to dock there.  This enabled them to bring in large quantities of trade goods to barter with the Indians for their animal pelts.  Originally it was beaver, when they declined it became Buffalo, Elk, Deer and about everything else.  The Trading Post dominated fur trade from 1828 - 1867.  As the Buffalo herds declined, and settlers started arrived in large numbers, the Indians realized their way of life was being threatened and started to rebel.  This prompted the establishment of Fort Buford in 1866 to keep the peace, control the Indians and eventually force them onto reservations.

Steamboats once traveled up the Missouri to this point

1904 Cadillac car that wasn't used much as
it couldn't climb the hills

Loved the way the Indians braided the corn husks

The Oscar Will Company catalogs and advertising
used great art work on native Indian culture

Oscar Will reintroduced many native seeds that
performed better in the North Dakota soil

Fort Buford Officers Quarters

Loved this cigar box

Chief Sitting Bull surrendered in this room

The barracks, four men in each bunk bed

They had Laundresses working at the fort, the highest paying
job there, but a little questionable as to what services
they provided.

The Fort Union Trading Post was reproduced very
authentically using past photos, drawings and archeology

The painting over the Gate

The huge Bourgeois House that originally housed the 
Trading Post manager, the Bourgeois, and now used as a 
museum and visitors center

View of the Fort compound from a lookout post

Indian Peace Medal, if you see one at a
yard sale buy it

Next stop is Theodore Roosevelt National Park;
Twinkles and Slick