Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, Nebraska

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.

Location information and directions.

Links: Fort Atkinson

Leave a Reply