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Camp Corning State Historic Site

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Camp Corning was the July 16, 1863, campground of the Sibley expedition. The camp, named for the expedition’s quartermaster, lies eight miles northeast of Dazey, Barnes County.

Before dawn that morning the troops left Camp Smith and discovered the trail left by Captain James L. Fisk’s immigrant wagon train in 1862. Through the increasingly difficult terrain, the troops followed Fisk’s trail, knowing that it would lead them to a good place to cross the Sheyenne River. As the troops began descending from the plains into the wooded bottom lands of the river valley, two companies of infantry were deployed as skirmishers to protect against attack. When the trail narrowed in the brush and progress slowed at the crossing, the train of wagons and soldiers formed a column nearly five miles long. As the troops waited to cross, a group of horsemen chased a small herd of elk toward the resting men. The soldiers captured one young elk and kept it as a mascot in one of the wagons.

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After crossing the Sheyenne River, the expedition established Camp Corning near a small alkali lake. The brackish water was unfit for consumption. Shallow holes were dug near the lake shore to filter the water, but with only limited success. After three days without wood, the men became reconciled to using “buffalo chips” as fuel for their cooking fires. When they learned that a trench full of the dried buffalo manure cooked as quickly as bituminous coal but without the sulphur or other disagreeable fumes, this became the major fuel source.

Currently, Camp Corning State Historic Site consists of a simple granite marker flanked by a stand of pines beside a county road ditch.

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