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History of the Fort

The challenge of history is to recover the past and introduce it to the present. ~David Thelen

CLICK HERE to download a complete history of Fort Atkinson as printed in NEBRASKAland magazine. 

Here are a few quick facts:
  • Years of existence: 1819-1827
  • Originally established as "Camp Cantonment" just upriver in 1819. Floods in the spring of 1820 led to the construction of the permanent fort atop the original "Council Bluff."
  • Presidents during time of fort: James Monroe, John Quincy Adams
  • Nebraska firsts at Fort Atkinson: first military post, school, library, and large scale agriculture/livestock operation
  • Population: At its height, Fort Atkinson housed nearly 1/4 of the standing US Army (approximately 1,200 soldiers); roughly that many civilians lived just beyond the wall of the garrison.
  • Primary purpose: To protect the American fur trade by guarding the "gateway to the west."
  • The Missouri river originally flowed just below the east bluff of the fort. Today, its channel lies some three miles to the east.