You are here

Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site

-A A +A
1858–1877; 1936 Wayside Park; 2001 reconstruction; 2001 Visitors’ Center, LJA Architects. County Rd. 22, 0.5 miles southeast of Abercrombie
  • (Photograph by Steve C. Martens)

Fort Abercrombie was the first permanent U.S. military fort established in the northern part of Dakota Territory. It guarded the oxcart trails of the later fur trade era, military supply wagon trains, stagecoach routes, and steamboat traffic on the Red River. As a hub for several major transportation routes through the northern Great Plains, this “Gateway to the Dakotas” was also a supply base for two major gold-seeking expeditions across Dakota into Montana. It was the only post in the area to be besieged by Dakota (Sioux) warriors for more than six weeks during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, when Minnesota Volunteer Infantry soldiers stationed here offered shelter to settlers. The fort was not protected by blockhouses or a palisade during the siege, but these defensive structures were constructed soon after. Once the fort was abandoned in 1877, most buildings were removed from the site. A WPA project in 1939–1940 reconstructed three blockhouses and the stockade, and returned the original military guardhouse to the site. The WPA also constructed a wayside park just west of the historic site at the edge of the town of Abercrombie. Some of the reconstruction work at the fort from the 1930s has been challenged for its historical accuracy. In 2001, a major reconstruction was commenced and the site is more faithfully interpreted today, with a new visitors’ center just to the west.

Writing Credits

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


What's Nearby


Steve C. Martens and Ronald H. L. M. Ramsay, "Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site", [Wahpeton, 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, 56-56.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.