Poems, Stories and Personal Accounts

by Arthur H. Buckley
A link in the long chain of outposts
that marked men's movement West,
sprawled on the bank of the river,
Old Fort Peck played a part with the rest.

Through its gates passed soldiers and plainsmen
and trappers brought furs there to trade.
Friendly Redskins erected their teepees
on the ledge near the sturdy stockade.

To its wharf came stern-wheeler packets
with freight from the cities downstream
to be hauled in the old covered wagon
with its clumsily plodding ox team.

It is said Sitting Bull sometimes came there
to knock at the gates in the night,
came to trade for supplies and tobacco
where he feared to be seen by daylight.

Who knows but that Cody and Custer
or maybe Calamity Jane
sought shelter within the old fortress
in those days that will always remain

a picturesque chapter in hist'ry
filled with action, adventure and zest
when paleface battled with Redskin
as the East came to grips with the West.

But Time in its march so relentless
has erased the old trails long ago.
The old forts, the old scouts and the trappers
are gone with the wild buffalo.

Fort Peck too, is gone like the others.
Not a trace of it now can be found
save a bullet or two or a few rusty nails
when we walk this historic ground.

Today on the flowing Missouri
o'er whose waters stern-wheelers once sped
a fleet of great hydraulic dredges
incessantly digs at its bed.

And pumps out the sand thru long pipelines
and spills it again down below
where man is erecting a barrier
to dam up the river's strong flow

and the lake to be formed by this structure
will carry the old Fort's name
so that future generations
shall remember its one time fame.

©2000 1/2002 by Arthur H. Buclkey / Diane B. Pile