Fort Buford State Historic Site
Sawmill & Water Tower
One of the first projects for the soldiers arriving to build Fort Buford in 1866 was to build a sawmill. By June, 1866, the fort's sawmill was in operation providing sawn planks for building material in the construction of the fort. The sawmill was moved to different locations over the years.
Water, a vitally important resource for large military posts like Fort Buford was originally brought into the fort from the river by wagon. An underground water system was started in 1885 and completed by the addition of the water tower in 1889. This water system served the fort for the remainder of its history.
The foundation of the water tower can be seen today just north of this sign across the irrigation canal.
Fort Buford, strategically situated at the Confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, was tied to river transportation. Along this river terrace was the Fort Buford Steamboat Landing. Supplies and material were off-loaded along this bank to fill the quartermaster warehouses. It was here on July 4, 1876, that the steamboat, "Far West" stopped briefly, bringing the news of the defeat of the Seventh Cavalry at the Little Bighorn. Fort Buford was the first U.S. Army post to learn of the tragedy. In 1889, after the completion of the Great Northern
Railroad to the West Coast, steamboat traffic began a steady decline.