Look Up, Bismarck! A Walking Tour of Bismarck, North Dakota
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. This walking tour of Bismarck, North Dakota is ready to explore when you are. Each walking tour describes historical, architectural landmarks, cultural sites and ecclesiastic touchstones and provides step-by-step directions. More
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way, a downloadable walking tour is ready to explore when you are.
Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
The site of the city was originally a small military post established in 1872 with the mandate of protecting work gangs from the Northern Pacific Railway. It was called Edwinton after Edwin F. Johnson, chief engineer of the Northern Pacific, and spotted at one of the most advantageous crossings of the Missouri River.
The railroad arrived on June 4, 1873 and the town name was switched to honor German chancellor Otto von Bismarck in the hopes of attracting German settlement and perhaps some investments of Deutsche Marks. Then gold was discovered in the Black Hills and nobody much cared what the town at the head of navigation was called.
Another boom descended in 1883 when county sheriff and political boss Alexander McKenzie orchestrated - by stealing votes and intimidating voters his opponents claimed - the move of the Dakota Territory capital from Yankton to Bismarck. When the territory was cleaved into two states in 1889 Bismarck became the North Dakota capital and, despite a vote to leave for Jamestown in 1930 after the original capitol building burned, has been the only seat of government the state has known.
The face of Bismarck changed forever on the night of August 10, 1898 when a fire broke out in a Northern Pacific Railroad warehouse. Before the flames could be beaten back kegs of gunpowder exploded, stoking the conflagration. Winds whipped the fire from the railroad to the doorstep of the capitol building, ten blocks to the north. When the losses from the Great Fire of 1898 were added up the bill reached for than one-half million dollars and the days of constructing commercial buildings from wood in Bismarck were over.
Our walking tour of downtown Bismarck will discover how the city rebuilt, a process that dominates the streetscape more than a century later. But first we will begin on the grounds where we can see the very first structure raised in Bismarck...