After leaving Theodore Roosevelt National Park we traveled east to The Cross Ranch State Park. The Cross Ranch is another of the 200 best state parks and is located on the Missouri River near two of Lewis and Clark's encampments.
The owners of the Cross Ranch were admirers of Theodore Roosevelt so when they bought the ranch they also bought the Maltese Cross brand that TR once owned and named the ranch accordingly. When they disposed of the ranch they donated it to The Nature Conservancy who has maintained it as a ranch except for 600 acres that the Conservancy gave to North Dakota as a park. We hiked in both the park and Conservancy and were covered with ticks. The park staff told us that their ticks don't have diseases, none the less we were not very comfortable.
While staying at the park we were able to visit the Knife River Indian Villages National Memorial commemorating the three tribes that inhabited this region when Lewis and Clark made their voyage of discovery. The Mandan, Hidasta and Arikaras lived in earth lodge settlements in a matriarchal society. They had lived there for about 500 years farming and fishing when Lewis and Clark found them. It was from one of these villages that Lewis and Clark hired the Scout Charbonneau who's wife Sacajawea turned out to be a very important member of the expedition. When we left Cross Ranch State Park we stopped at Ft. Mandan a reproduction of the first Fort the expedition spent the winter in. You may remember when we were in Oregon we visited Ft. Clatsop where the expedition spent the winter before returning home.
From Ft Mandan we went to Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park also one of North Dakota's contribution to the 200 best State Parks. Fort Abraham Lincoln was the Fort where George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry were stationed and from where they left on their fateful journey to the Little Big Horn. Originally the fort was an infantry post but then cavalry was added. Current structures are all reproductions as local people stripped the lumber when the Army abandoned the post. We walked around the infantry post, toured the house that Custer lived in with his wife while he was stationed there, and went into the enlisted men's barracks. The barracks are set up as if the men will soon return with a short bio on each bed listing whether the men had died at the Little Big Horn or had been on detached duty.
Outside the commander's house they have a supply wagon and some supplies. The wagon is a Studebaker and one of the cases of supplies is worcestershire sauce but I don't think Lea and Perrin were in Fair Lawn at the time.
Years before this area was used for a fort it was the site of a Mandan village. The State has reproduced 5 Mandan earthpole lodges and conduct daily tours of the village known as the At a Slant Mandan Village.
The park even has a neat trolley that runs to the nearest town.