Fort Totten (1)
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Fort Totten (1867-1890) - Established 17 Jul 1867 by Captain Samuel A. Wainwright of the 31st U.S. Infantry and named after Brigadier General Joseph G. Totten, Chief Engineer of the Army. The fort was used to police the surrounding Indian reservation, guard transportation routes and aid the Dakota Sioux Indians. Abandoned by the Army in 1890 and later used as an Indian school.
Fort Totten History
Initially built as a stockaded log fort located 800 yards north of the present site. The current fort was begun 1868 and mostly completed by 1871 with barracks for three companies of troops.
The fort was built out as a three company post that started as an infantry post but also housed a cavalry company at times. The post was built around a small parade about 150' by 200' with the officer's quarters lining the west side and the three enlisted barracks lining the east side. The north side of the parade housed the hospital, the surgeon's quarters and a quartermaster building. The south side contained the adjutant office, the bake house and the commissary. Other support buildings were placed behind the major buildings surrounding the parade, some 39 buildings have been associated with the post.
The post was abandoned in 1890 and was transferred to the Interior Department 4 Oct 1890. On 5 Jan 1891 it became the property of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and served as an Indian boarding school until 1935. From 1935 to 1939 the post was used as a tuberculosis preventorium to isolate high risk individuals from a tuberculosis epidemic on the reservation. From 1940 to 1959 the post was used as a grade and high school for the surrounding community. On 18 Jan 1960 the historic site was formally transferred to the State Historic Society of North Dakota. The transferred site included 9.8 acres of land and 16 of the original 39 buildings.
Must See! Part of the Fort Totten State Historic Site in the town of Fort Totten, Benson County, North Dakota. Operated by the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Fort Totten is externally one of the best preserved military forts of the Dakota frontier era. The conversion of the post to other uses after the U.S. Army abandoned it dramatically changed the interiors of some of the buildings and many of those changes remain. The post is therefore dual interpreted with both the military use and the civilian use explained but most of the remains reflect the later civilian periods. There is only one building remaining that was built after the military left and that is the large gymnasium built in 1925. One of the larger officer's quarters is currently being used as the Totten Trail Historic Inn that offers overnight stays and meeting spaces.
Location: 612 East Blvd Ave, Bismarck, Benson County, ND 58505-0830
Maps & Images
Lat: 47.977599 Long: -98.993382
- Hart, Herbert M., Tour Guide to Old Western Forts, Pruett Publishing Co., Boulder CO, 1980, ISBN 0-87108-568-2, page 117
- Frazer, Robert W., Forts of the West, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman OK, 1965, ISBN 0-8061-1250-6, page 115
- Roberts, Robert B., Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, Macmillan, New York, 1988, 10th printing, ISBN 0-02-926880-X, page 633-634
Visited: 12 Sep 2013
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