The original Fort Abercrombie was constructed in 1858, and it was the first military settlement in what would become North Dakota. Fort Abercrombie was a relic of the first transportation boom in the Dakota Territory — riverboats. Before the railroads, riverboats were one of the most efficient means of hauling cargo, and the Red River became a highway between Fort Abercrombie and Winnipeg. Due to flooding concerns, the fort was rebuilt in 1860 on higher ground, at its present location.
The fort was besieged by the Sioux for more than six weeks in 1862, an event that came to be known as the Dakota War of 1862. Four soldiers were killed and two wounded.
With the frigid Dakota Territory winter approaching, the fort was abandoned as a military outpost on October 23rd, 1877. The town of Abercrombie was officially established nearly seven years later, about a half mile west.
Fort Abercrombie was largely forgotten for decades, but started to come back to life when the WPA began reconstruction of the original fort in 1939 and 1940. You can read more about the history of Fort Abercombie here.
Two reconstructed blockhouses and the original guard house now reside at The Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site. Fort Abercrombie is right on the Red River, about forty minutes south of Fargo.
Fort Abercrombie is featured in our new book, the softcover Special Edition of Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 1.
The Red River has shifted its track over the years and the land under part of the site was compromised. This marker provides a nice reference point for getting your bearings on the site.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media
Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy