Missouri River Odyssey
Tour a prairie palace
The imposing white house at Fort Union, where the head merchant lived, looks strangely grand against the North Dakota landscape near Williston, like a suburban mansion built expressly to outshine its neighbors. And that's what it was. "They wanted the tribes who came to trade to be impressed," explains Superintendent Andrew Banta.
George Catlin, the famed painter who depicted Plains Indians, set up his studio in one of the bastions of the fort, now a national historic site. The rectangular gun ports still frame views of the river and empty prairie.