Fort Totten (1)

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Fort Totten (1867-1890) - Established 17 Jul 1867 by Captain Samuel A. Wainwright of the 31st U.S. Infantry and named after Brigadier General Joseph G. Totten, Chief Engineer of the Army. The fort was used to police the surrounding Indian reservation, guard transportation routes and aid the Dakota Sioux Indians. Abandoned by the Army in 1890 and later used as an Indian school.

Fort Totten 1870 Powder Magazine
Fort Totten 1869 Commanding Officer's Quarters
Fort Totten 1869-1871 Officer's Row
Fort Totten 1868-1869 Company Barracks


Fort Totten Central Parade
Fort Totten Plan

Initially built as a stockaded log fort located 800 yards north of the present site. The current fort was begun 1868 and mostly completed by 1871 with barracks for three companies of troops.

The fort was built out as a three-company post that started as an infantry post but also housed a cavalry company at times. The post was built around a small parade about 150' by 200' with the officer's quarters lining the west side and the three enlisted barracks lining the east side. The north side of the parade housed the hospital, the surgeon's quarters, and a quartermaster building. The south side contained the adjutant office, the bakehouse, and the commissary. Other support buildings were placed behind the major buildings surrounding the parade, some 39 buildings have been associated with the post.

The post was abandoned in 1890 and was transferred to the Interior Department 4 Oct 1890. On 5 Jan 1891, it became the property of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and served as an Indian boarding school until 1935. From 1935 to 1939 the post was used as a tuberculosis preventorium to isolate high-risk individuals from a tuberculosis epidemic on the reservation. From 1940 to 1959 the post was used as a grade and high school for the surrounding community. On 18 Jan 1960, the historic site was formally transferred to the State Historical Society of North Dakota. The transferred site included 9.8 acres of land and 16 of the original 39 buildings.

Current Status

Fort Totten Marker

Must See! Part of the Fort Totten State Historic Site in the town of Fort Totten, Benson County, North Dakota. Operated by the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Fort Totten is externally one of the best-preserved military forts of the Dakota frontier era. The conversion of the post to other uses after the U.S. Army abandoned it dramatically changed the interiors of some of the buildings and many of those changes remain. The post is therefore dual interpreted with both the military use and the civilian use explained but most of the remains reflect the later civilian periods. There is only one building remaining that was built after the military left and that is the large gymnasium built in 1925. One of the larger officer's quarters is currently being used as the Totten Trail Historic Inn that offers overnight stays and meeting spaces.

Location: 612 East Blvd Ave, Bismarck, Benson County, ND 58505-0830

Maps & Images

Lat: 47.977599 Long: -98.993382

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 1500'



Visited: 12 Sep 2013

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