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Three Men on a Raft


An odd story came from Fort Buford, Dakota Territory, on this date in 1879. The Missouri was breaking up, and as people watched ice floes rushing down the river, they spied something curious coming toward them.

As reported in The Bismarck Tribune, “A black speck was seen floating with the ice near the middle of the river, and as it came nearer it was recognized as a raft bearing a load of human freight. Three unknown men were seen sitting closely together without a thread of clothing upon them, and apparently frozen to death.”

The story explained it was impossible for anybody to retrieve the frozen men, because traveling on the river was too dangerous. As the raft disappeared downstream, some speculated the three men were Army deserters from Glendive, but nobody would ever know for sure.

By Merry Helm

Source: The Bismarck Tribune. Dakota Territory. 12 Apr 1879: 1.