Fort Robinson was established in 1874 to guard the Red Cloud Agency, where Sioux Indians under the leadership of Chief Red Cloud had settled under treaty with the U.S. government. The fort was the site of several dramatic incidents in the last years of the Plains Indians wars. In May 1877, Oglala Sioux chief Crazy Horse and 900 followers surrendered at Fort Robinson, and settled on the reservation. Just a few months later, Crazy Horse was arrested and brought into the fort, where he was stabbed in a scuffle and died several hours later. In 1879, Cheyenne chief Dull Knife and his tribe left their reservation in the Indian Territory and sought to take refuge with Red Cloud on his reservation. They were intercepted by troops from Fort Robinson and detained there. After several days, the Indians broke out with the use of weapons they had hidden, and 64 of the 149 Indians who fled the fort were killed in fighting over the next two weeks. (This incident is depicted in John Ford’s great film, “Cheyenne Autumn.”) The fort was in operation until 1948. Fort Robinson State Park now includes a museum housed in the fort’s former headquarters, with displays of both Indian and U.S. army artifacts. Other fort buildings have been restored and furnished with period pieces, including the adobe officers’ quarters, the guardhouse, blacksmith shop, and adjutant’s office (where Crazy Horse died).
Location Information and Directions
Links: Fort Robinson State Park
After Lewis and Clark held council with members of the Otoe and Missouri Nations, high on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River, Clark noted that the site was “well calculated for a tradeing establishment”. Based upon this recommendation, Fort Atkinson, the first military post west of the Mississippi, was constructed by the Yellowstone Expedition in 1819. The fort was originally named Camp Council Bluff, as it was built adjacent to the site of Lewis and Clark’s council. The name was eventually changed to Fort Atkinson, in honor of Colonel Henry Atkinson, commander of the Yellowstone Expedition. Fort Atkinson was in use from 1820 to 1827, and housed a garrison of 1,000 men. The garrison protected the western fur trade as well as overland traffic along the Platte River Valley. Fort Atkinson was the starting point for many of the early expeditions to the southwest and such settlements of Taos and Santa Fe. Fort Atkinson was abandoned in 1827 as southern trails grew in importance. After abandonment, Fort Atkinson succumbed to the need for farmland, and was destroyed. Local preservationists came to the aid of the fort in 1963 when the land was purchased and a restoration drive began. Today, after many donations, Fort Atkinson has been reconstructed, including the stone blockhouse and north, south and west walls which include the barracks. Bastions at the northwest and southeast corners have also been reconstructed.
Blockhouse at Ft. Atkinson taken by Steve Parrish
Location information and directions.
Links: Fort Atkinson