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Glimpses of Our
National Monuments


West view of Verendrye.

The significance of this national monument, established June 29, 1917, with an area of 250.04 acres, is that it marks the spot on the left bank of the upper Missouri River where the sons of the celebrated French explorer, Verendrye, camped during their explorations in 1742, more than 60 years prior to the expedition of Lewis and Clark. It is associated with the first explorations of North Dakota and the interior of the Northwest. The records of their journeys are the subject of conflicting interpretations, but there is no question that the elder Verendrye was the first to enter North Dakota, this being in 1738, when he approached within a day's journey of the upper Missouri. Thus it is that picturesque Crowhigh Butte, rising 565 feet above the river on its left bank and the central feature of the monument, is one of the most important landmarks associated with the Verendrye explorations.

Starting from his trading post on the Assinniboine River, Fort La Reine, the site of the present city of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada, the elder Verendrye and one son started on an over land journey to reach the western sea. Going southwest to Turtle Mountains and continuing the party arrived in December at an Indian village a day's journey from the Missouri, the residents of which he called the Mantannes. This was the terminus of the 1738 journey, as the whole party returned to Fort La Reine the following February. It was, however, the first recorded visit of white men n North Dakota.

In 1742 two sons of Verendrye led another exploring expedition, in Fort La Reinne in April and reaching a Mantanne Indian village on the Missouri in less than a month at the point where is leaving now located the town of Sanish, N. Dak. Here they remained for two months before crossing. Journeying westward and southwestward between the Yellowstone and Little Missouri Rivers, they were finally turned back by a range of mountains, which in all probability was the Big Horn Range of the Rocky Mountains in northern Wyoming. Their return has resulted in conflicting interpretations of the route followed, but they reached the Mantanne village in May, 1743, rejoining their father at Fort La Reine on July 2. Like La Salle's imperial dream of French colonization, Verendrye planned and partly completed a fur-trade empire of continental dimensions, but like La Salle's it crumbled away to nothing. But Verendrye's journeyings, his discoveries, his plans and failures have an abiding place in western history.

Old Crossing at the Mantanne village became one of the most important fords of the Missouri and a highway of exploration and early trade. The monument lands were formerly included in the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, the eastern part of which was opened to settlement in 1911. Payment for the lands included in the monument was made in 1921, when Congress appropriated funds to reimburse the Indians. The State Historical Society of North Dakota was largely instrumental in having the monument established to commemorate the Verendrye expedition to the upper Missouri. The new and growing town of Sanish, which adjoins the monument, is the terminus of a branch line of the Chicago, Milwaukee & Sault Ste. Marie Railroad. Sanish may be reached by motorists from the Theodore Roosevelt International Highway crossing the northern part of the State by a side trip from Stanley, N. Dak.

Adolph Larsen, of Sanish, is custodian of the monument.


Last Modified: Thurs, Oct 19 2000 10:00:00 pm PDT

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