The expedition established Fort Mandan on November 2, 1804, near the Mandan and Hidatsa villages, the last mapped outposts in a largely unexplored territory. They remained at the fort, their winter quarters, until April 7, 1805. At Fort Mandan, located near today’s Washburn, North Dakaota, they would endure a harsh winter with the rigors of prairie winter, including frequent snows, blizzards, and extreme temperatures—indeed, the coldest temperature of the year. They saw a variety of natural phenomena, including sun dogs, mirages, northern lights, and even an eclipse of the moon. They interacted with the villagers—even partook in hunting ceremonies—and met the Shoshone woman who would become a tremendous asset during the journey: Sakagawea. As spring neared, the party moved quickly to free the keelboat and pirogues from the icy barrier of the Missouri River before breakup. By late March, the ice was flowing and temperatures were warming.
KeywordsCold Weather Cold Night Winter Quarter Temp Weather Hard Frost
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