Rugby, North Dakota is the geographic center of North America and there is a cairn at the exact latitude and longitude. We stopped here on our way home from our 2014 Drive Across Canada but it was October and bitterly cold with the threat of snow. The day was much more pleasant this time around.
As we journeyed from place to place we would occasionally stop and look for a geocache. We pulled off the highway into a little town called Minnewaukan where we searched for quite awhile feeding huge mosquitos and no luck finding the cache. They had a nice bell on the corner though. And a nice dead tree along the roadside. Our main plan for the day was to go to Fort Totten State Historic Site, located about an hour south east of Rugby. We arrived about 11:30 and left at 2:30. The fort is one of the best-preserved military posts in the United States. It served American Indian Policy from 1867-1959. The fort was built between 1867 and 1873 and used as a military fort until decommissioned in 1890. In 1891 the fort was re-furbished and became an Indian boarding school and vocational training center to prepare Indian youth for life off the reservation. Enrollment sometimes topped 400; the largest student body of any of the schools in the federal system of its time. (It was a forced enrollment for many of those years to try European-ize the Native Americans in much the same way as the Canadian Residential Schools.) All of the restored buildings (several still need work) were beautifully maintained with interesting displays of both the military period and the boarding school years. We spoke with one of the staff for awhile and she told us that tomorrow (Aug 8) will be the fort’s 150th anniversary and they are having a full day of activities that will include over 200 cyclists that will be staying on the grounds.
A sample of one of the classrooms at the boarding school. Looked a lot like my grades 1-3 classroom. The General Merchantile on the fort grounds was well stocked.This nice theater is used by the local Spirit Lake Theater Group to put on major Broadway musicals like Oklahoma, Annie, and South Pacific. There were photos of the casts of all the plays going back to the early’60s.
Inside the bible on a podium in one of the display rooms there was this sheet of paper with the words to the American and Canadian National Anthems. I thought it quite interesting that they would have the Canadian Anthem written out.
The hospital building (now cafeteria) had displays all around the perimeter of the room. These are the ones I liked the most. The basket at the foot of the spinning wheel contains bolls of cotton. The other basket is the spun yarn and the other photo is a blanket. The bowls of these spoons are sea shells. I liked this 1861 map of the United States. We had a pb & j sandwich in the shade of a tree in the parking lot at 2:30 and then headed south toward Jamestown; which is only about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Rugby. With all the stops to try find caches it was quarter after 6 before we arrived
. We walked across this bridge and all the way through a large park on the other side to discover that the cache location we were looking for was just up the road at a Vietnam Veterans Memorial. While I searched John went all the way back for Poppy. I still hadn’t found it by the time he drove back and he found it five minutes later in a spot I thought of but didn’t look. Note to self: If you think of it – look. As well as our lengthy touring of Fort Totten we found seven geocaches along the way from Rugby to Jamestown. This was a small one hidden where a phone booth used to be in the parking lot of a bar.We stopped at a restaurant before checking in to our hotel and had to wait well over an hour before we got our dinner. The kitchen got slammed with orders and they told everyone that came in that no orders would be sent to the kitchen until they caught up. Never had that happen before. But, we were near our hotel and had no where we had to be so we worked on one of my word puzzles until our order could be put in. The food, when we got it was good, and I didn’t have to do the dishes, AND they have free pie on Mondays, which we took with us and ate in our hotel room later; so all was well.
Tomorrow we will be in South Dakota and visiting the town where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived, and where she wrote her “Little House” books. I am looking forward to that.