What you can find along the state line

We are captivated by all the unique offerings of architecture and history along the Missouri River where it flows from Montana to North Dakota.  This fall, as the weather has been decent and the light excellent, we’ve spent more time in the region between Williston, Buford, Mondak, and Fairview.  Take your camera to catch a memorable array of snapshots.

Among the treasures, there are the:

This fall, we explored the Missouri River between Fort Union and the Snowden Liftbridge. The Golden Hour, about 5:30 on this October afternoon gave us a unique view of the Snowden Liftbridge from the underside.


iron work, golden hour, snowden lift bridge

The golden hour under the north end of the Snowden Lift Bridge

snowden lift bridget

Rusting away in the tree row, a warning sign tells people this federal auto/train liftbridge was dangerous, but also protected by Federal Government. Today, it’s off limits, the private property of the BNSF.

A warning sign on the Snowden Lift Bridge in Montana

A warning sign in the trees and brush on the north end of the Snowden Bridge warns drivers and pedestrians to be aware of the danger of trains.

The Snowden Liftbridge

The Snowden Liftbridge is still used, but with less hope and promise than when it was built.  It was to enhance the transportation access to grain markets and other markets south and east of Montana.  Along with steamboats on the Missouri River, it was assumed the bridge would help build the little town of Mondak.  When the U.S. Government ruled steamboats could no longer travel the Missouri River, and then it shut off the free flow of the river with a series of bridges — Mondak died.

Mondak and snowden bridge

105 Years ago, this was the scene of a story told nationwide. It all started at the bridge in the background and ended at the little adobe building in the foreground.

Road Trip Recommendation

We encourage you to take the drive to Fort Buford near the town of Buford, North Dakota, southwest of Williston.  The museum and the historic site are a pleasant and charming afternoon visit (even if the graveyard is haunted).

From there, drive a short 5 miles to Fort Union Trading Post where the entrance is free. Wander the site, check out the museum and bookstore.  Fort Union and Fort Buford are very close in proximity, but their purposes were miles apart.

If you have your hiking shoes, take a hike along the river upstream to the Fairview Lift Bridge. This is not a cultivated and maintained path, it’s a raw outdoor hike on the public property.  If you are a U.S. Citizen, it’s your property, under the “ownership” of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

If you don’t want to hike, take a drive east and then south a couple miles back toward Fairview (called “The Toughest Town in the West”) and Sidney on Highway 58.  About 1 1/2 miles south of the Missouri River bridge on Highway 58, look for a local road #147 that angles to the northwest. This road will take you underneath the south end of the Snowden Lift Bridge.

Alternate drive to Bainville

If you don’t mind gravel roads and enjoy remarkable fall scenery, badlands bluffs, rolling hills, and endless skies, keep driving west after Fort Union.  This part of Montana will introduce you to solid ranch country as you take the route to Bainville.  It’s been a major road connecting town in the far eastern edge of Montana and has a deep history.  Once at Bainville, you can head back east to Williston on Highway 2, or west to Culbertson.

You’ll come back from your trip with a visual library of beautiful photographs.  We have, and we share them here at Mykuhls.com.

When to go?

Our Things to Do calendar is updated weekly. It’s a collection of all the events and activities we can find in Western North Dakota and Eastern Montana.

We also put together this free resource guide to help you narrow down and find exactly where you want to find an event or activity.  It’s free. 

Just click and tell us where to send it.


Did you know we do this for you?

Road trips are our specialty.  We’d be glad to recommend a Western North Dakota/Eastern Montana road trip for you.  Let us know your criteria, and we can plot a course for you.  Of course, you can check out some of our recommendations here on Beautiful Badlands ND by clicking on the category “ROAD TRIP.”

We’re booking speaking engagements through the winter. So, to inspire your group about sights and stops in the west, leave a comment here and we’ll work with you on a presentation for your group.

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