On November 2, 1804, the expedition came to the place where they built their winter quarters. Lewis wrote, “This place we have named Fort Mandan in honour of our Neighbours.” Clark “fixed on a place for to build a fort and Set to work.” As described by Gass, “the huts were in two rows, containing four rooms each, and joined at one end forming an angle. When rasied about 7 feet high a floor of puncheons or split plank were laid, and covered with grass and clay; which made a warm loft. The upper part projected a foot over and the roofs were made shed-fashion, rising from the inner side, and making the outer wall about 18 feet high. The part not inclosed by the huts we intended to picket. In the angle formed by the two rows of huts we built two rooms, for holding our provisions and stores.” The Corps stayed at this location until April 7, 1805. While there, they engaged in diplomacy with area tribes, made preparations for the next leg of the journey, and consolidated records and specimens that would go back downriver with the keelboat in the spring. Fort Mandan is also the site where Sacagawea and Charbonneau first joined the expedition.
The historic site of Fort Mandan is located on privately-owned land along the northeast banks of the Missouri, about 12 miles west of the city of Washburn. The exact location is unknown and may be partially submerged by the river. A modern reconstruction of Fort Mandan and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, managed by the North Dakota Department of Parks and Recreation, is located about ten miles downriver.
Learn more at Discovering Lewis and Clark.