Fort Lincoln (5)

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Fort Lincoln (5) (1899-1966) - A U.S. Army Fort established in 1899 near present day Bismarck, Burleigh County, North Dakota. Originally built to replace Fort Yates. Used as an Alien Detention Center (ADC) during World War II. Declared surplus and abandoned in 1966. Not to be confused with Fort Abraham Lincoln across the Missouri River.


On 2 Mar 1895 Congress authorized Fort Lincoln as a replacement for Fort Yates because that post was nearly 50 miles from the nearest rail connection. Construction began in 1899 and the post was complete enough to be garrisoned in 1903. The post continued to be garrisoned on and off until 1941 when the post was released to the Department of Justice for use as an Alien Detention Center.

World War II

Initially, the Fort Lincoln Alien Detention Center housed German seamen from seized Axis vessels. The center opened in May 1941 and the first group of 220 arrived at the center about 1 Jun 1941. The first escape was recorded less than two weeks later on 13 Jun 1941. By October 1941 four attempted escapes had been made, none were successful. The center was expanded in 1941 to a capacity of some 2000 men. Germans were the sole internees until February 1945 when 650 Japanese Americans arrived. About half of the Japanese were "recalcitrants" from camps at Tule Lake, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. These internees had renounced their American citizenship and were to be sent to Japan after the war. The rest of the new arrivals were Japanese nationals to be repatriated after the war.

Fort Lincoln Internment Camp NPS Plan.

Post War

An October 1945 inspection report summarized the facility as:

"The compound area is a 700' x 1300' exclusive of the hospital and recreation field. It contains 38 installations, including four large brick buildings and 18 regulation Army barracks. The Japanese internees are housed in the brick buildings, which are steam heated and very comfortable. They sleep on double deck bunks, 30 men to an average barracks 25 x 30, with high ceilings. The Germans occupy the temporary buildings, which are also very comfortable."

At the time of the report, the camp capacity was estimated as 1,700 internees with a population of 1,700 Japanese and 252 Germans. The war was over and preparations for the reunification of families were still in a state of flux. Many of the Japanese were men who had renounced their American citizenship and were to be repatriated to Japan. Many who had done so were now worried about their families who resided in other camps.

The last three groups to leave the center were 93 Japanese being voluntarily repatriated to Japan, 149 Germans and South Americans of German extraction sent to Ellis Island for involuntary repatriation and on 1 March 1946, the last group of 200 or more Japanese was to be sent to another internment camp at Santa Fe, New Mexico. The center was to revert to War Department control after being emptied. By 27 March 1946, only a skeleton crew remained at Fort Lincoln.

On 1 Jul 1946 the U.S. Army Engineers Headquarters for the Garrison Dam project was established at Fort Lincoln. By 14 Jun 1947, the District had some 300 employees working out of the district office at Fort Lincoln.

Declared surplus and abandoned in 1966. In 1969, it became the United Tribes Technical College (UTTC).

Current Status

Part of the UTTC campus, some of the original ADC buildings are still used by the UTTC.

Location: Near Bismarck, Burleigh County, North Dakota.

Maps & Images

Lat: 46.76903 Long: -100.75630

  • Multi Maps from ACME
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  • Elevation: 1,657'

GPS Locations:

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