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Contact: Loren Yellow Bird, 701-572-9083
Weekend Events at Fort Union Trading Post NHS to Celebrate National Park Week
National Park Week is April 18–26, and Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site is sponsoring a series of free and open-to-the-public events.
On Saturday, April 25, museum curator Fred MacVaugh will lead a guided 1 p.m. walk of the fort's historic grounds. "Many events associated with the post's history occurred outside the post's palisade walls," he said. "This walk will showcase some of those little-known aspects of Fort Union's history. For example," he added, "the stories of Fort William and Charles Larpenteur's Trade Post."
Children and adults may also continue with a hike to Bodmer Overlook, where North Dakota's spring greeters, the purple-petaled pasqueflower, are in full bloom. It was most likely from this vantage point that the Swiss artist Karl Bodmer in 1833 sketched what today is one of western North Dakota's most famous images.
Saturday and Sunday, April 26, will also see several long-time Williston-area residents, members of the Fort Union Muzzle Loaders Association, showcasing the lifestyles of the post's fur traders and hunters in the middle 1800s. Visitors are welcome to chat with these passionate living history volunteers who've devoted years to learning and sharing the site's history.
One common question is, What did the historic post's employees, traders, and visitors do for entertainment? You can find out on Sunday. Site staff invites interested individuals, including children, to join them and members of the Muzzle Loaders for the park's inaugural Game Day. It will start at 1 p.m. Volunteers and staff will be on hand until 5:30 p.m. to demonstrate period games such as cribbage and cards, which visitors are free to join in on and learn to play. Kids can also complete the park's Junior Trader program and activity booklet.
"At a remote post like Fort Union," MacVaugh said, "games served as more than entertainment. As with games played today, those that post employees, traders, visitors, and others played brought them together. Over draughts [a form of checkers] and other pastimes," he said, "they forged friendships." If one thinks about it, Fort Union's importance is, he continued, a testament to the individuals and communities that built strong personal and business relationships with one another. "And playing games together helped make that possible."