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Winter for State Historic Sites


Today is the final day to visit many historic sites operated by the State Historical Society of North Dakota before its winter season begins. The state owns 57 sites, and access varies. There are even some sites that never open to visitors.

For a number of the sites, the summer season opens May 16. Visitors can learn about a historic site’s early settlers from its interpretive centers. Those centers, like the Gingras Trading Post and Fort Abercrombie, close today, though the grounds remain open year ‘round. Standing plaques at historic sites help inform visitors in the off-season.

Many state historic sites lie off the beaten track. The Standing Rock site in Ransom County sits on the county’s highest point, and it’s a half-mile drive up a loose gravel road. A turtle effigy in Mercer County is not only well isolated from nearby roads, but its exact location is somewhat of a secret. Grant County’s Medicine Rock is both a drive south of Elgin and a walk along a farm field to see the sacred Indian site Lewis and Clark described. Some sites are totally inaccessible to the general public. They might be on private land, sacred to Native Americans or lack access.

For the most part, North Dakota’s state historic sites are easily found, and each tells a story. Visitors can follow the camps and battles of the Sully and Sibley campaigns. The Corps of Discovery’s time in the state is marked by sites at the Mandan villages and near the spot of their winter camp by Washburn.

History is always unfolding in North Dakota, and the state historical society is still acquiring sites. Lawrence Welk’s boyhood home near Strasburg was a recent purchase. While numerous interpretive centers close today, visitors are able to walk the sites’ grounds and reflect upon the past.

Dakota Datebook written by Jack Dura


"http://www.history.nd.gov/historicsites/" http://www.history.nd.gov/historicsites/

"http://history.nd.gov/HP/sites/abercrombie/abercrombie.html" http://history.nd.gov/HP/sites/abercrombie/abercrombie.html

Nowatzki, M. (2015, June 23). Feelings bittersweet for Welk family as state prepares to take over famous bandleader’s boyhood home July 1. The Forum. Retrieved from: "http://www.inforum.com/news/3772592-feelings-bittersweet-welk-family-state-prepares-take-over-famous-bandleaders-boyhood" http://www.inforum.com/news/3772592-feelings-bittersweet-welk-family-state-prepares-take-over-famous-bandleaders-boyhood