July 3, 2012

Forty years at Fort Mandan

By Michael Johnson, Editor

Sunday afternoon was a time of recollection on the hard work and careful thought that went into the replica of Fort Mandan at the Headwaters Visitor Center in Washburn. Over 100 people that were interested or were heavily involved in the project attended the event, which was led by Lewis & Clark Fort Mandan Foundation  president David Borlaug and Foundation Interpretive Resource Manager Kevin Kirkey. Borlaug and Kirkey had compiled a long list of articles written about the replica from the beginning to the end of the project. It noted the lead sponsors and lead volunteers that made the project possible. Much of the early photos were taken by Borlaug who was in high school at the time, working for his father’s newspaper, The Washburn Leader. Alvera Bergquist and Sheila Robinson were two women who kept scrap books and important notes of worth on the project and saved them. They came in handy  when trying to retell the story. Dozens of others from the McLean County Historical Society were major benefactors to the project. Borlaug’s father, Oliver, had high hopes for the fort to one day reach 100,000 visitors in one summer. He wrote in his column, “To go out on a limb and say that some day 100,000 people will visit Fort Mandan in a summer would, we know,  raise some eyebrows. But we’ll still make that prediction, and add that before the turn of the century Fort Mandan could be one of the greatest tourist attractions in North Dakota. And it all started with an idea whose time had come...”


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