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Our History

The Lewis & Clark Fort Mandan Foundation originally formed as a committee in 1991 before becoming a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. We worked to secure a local match for state and federal funding, and on June 1, 1997, opened the North Dakota Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. That first summer brought almost 25,000 visitors from all 50 states, every Canadian province, and 22 countries through our doors. The new foundation also assumed responsibility for nearby Fort Mandan replica, which had been constructed by the McLean County Historical Society in the early 1970s.

From 2000 to 2001, we conducted a $2 million capital campaign that doubled the size of the Interpretive Center to 11,000 square feet, furnished the rooms of the reconstructed Fort Mandan, established an endowment trust, and began new interpretive programming at both the Interpretive Center and Fort Mandan.

We continued expanding in 2002 with the opening of our $1 million Fort Mandan Visitor Center. The 5,400 square foot facility was built with assistance from the area's energy industry and constructed almost entirely of coal combustion products. Flyash is the main ingredient in everything from "Flex Crete" building blocks, mortar, ceramic tile, carpeting and shingles. The wallboard is made from synthetic gypsum derived from power plant sludge.

Currently, we are in the midst of an $8 million capital campaign, which has funded another expansion of the Interpretive Center, now at 20,000 square feet featuring a new event center, rare book and resource library, art gallery, archive/art/research center, and a complete makeover of the interpretive galleries.


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