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Fort Totten State Historic Site

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1867–1890. 417 Cavalry Cir.
  • (Photograph by Steve C. Martens)
  • Magazine (HABS)
  • Storehouse. (HABS)
  • Company barracks (HABS)
  • Baker Shop (HABS)

One of the best-preserved military posts of the Trans-Mississippi West is the Fort Totten State Historic Site. Located on the south shore of Devils Lake, the fort was established in 1867 to provide protection of an overland route extending from southern Minnesota into western Montana. The post was named in honor of Brevet Major General Joseph Gilbert Totten, who was a chief engineer in the U.S. Army. The permanent buildings at the post were constructed of locally made brick between 1868 and 1871 at a substantial cost of one hundred thousand dollars. The structures include officers’ quarters, hospital, office, magazine, storehouses, company barracks, mess hall, commissary, baker shop, and guard house. The post was generally manned by two or three infantry companies and one or two cavalry companies until its closure in 1890, when the U.S. Congress approved its transfer to the Department of the Interior for establishment of Fort Totten Industrial School. In 1960, the fort was transferred to the State Historical Society, and today it serves as an interpretive historic site.

Writing Credits

Steve C. Martens and Ronald H. L. M. Ramsay


What's Nearby


Steve C. Martens and Ronald H. L. M. Ramsay, "Fort Totten State Historic Site", [Saint Michael, North Dakota], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of North Dakota

Buildings of North Dakota, Steve C. Martens and Ronald H. L. M. Ramsay. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015, 115-116.

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