New riverfront destination embraces the history of the Missouri River

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On the banks of the Missouri River lies a new venue that celebrates the history and culture of the region. Opening this...
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photo of Heritage Landing

On the banks of the Missouri River lies a new venue that celebrates the history and culture of the region. Opening this summer, the highly anticipated Heritage River Landing will provide visitors with food, fun and a glimpse into the past.

“When it’s all up and running, Heritage River Landing will be the orientation headquarters for one of the 55 National Heritage Areas in the United States,” says Aaron Barth, executive director, Missouri Valley Heritage Alliance (also known as the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation). “National Heritage Areas are landscapes that share the naturally important history and heritage of places in this nation that have made contributions to who we are today. This asset gives us an opportunity to connect
residents and visitors to recreational resources that are connected with the heritage of the Missouri River.”

The Missouri River is an integral part of our nation’s past, present and future. For more than 12,000 years, people have relied on it as a source of sustenance and transportation. One of the main routes for the western expansion of the United States in the 19th century, the Missouri River provides fertile soil, habitat for plants and animals, and a place for family and friends to come together.

Inspired by the post and beam warehouses of the 1870s, Heritage River Landing feels right at home along the Missouri.

“We researched what was here, and we focused on the1870s, because the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation focuses on historic interpretation and buildings from that period,” says Barth. “There was a whole complex of post and beam warehouses near the historic rail bridge. When they built them back in the day, it would have been cold storage for wheat and grain. Steamboats would carry grain to Bismarck where it could connect with the railroad and then be transported to the Twin Cities or to Chicago.”

Maps and historic artwork will be on display throughout the building, helping connect people to the area’s history and heritage. Visitors will also be able to purchase tickets for the Lewis & Clark Riverboat, which will be docked outside the building.

“This area — Bismarck, Dakota Territory — has always been connected to the world, and the world’s been connected to it. You just got to scratch a little bit below the surface. And those are the stories that we want to share with people, and say, ‘Hey, this is why this place matters.’”

The building isn’t the only thing influenced by the river. While preparing the menu for Huckleberry House, the restaurant located inside of Heritage River Landing, Chef Cody Monson says he’s found inspiration on the banks of the Missouri.

“I come down here just to get inspired,” says Monson, chef and co-owner, Huckleberry House. “You can just come, sit down, stare out and naturally find some inspiration.”

Monson, who grew up in North Dakota, is an award-winning chef. Classically trained at Minneapolis’ Le Cordon Bleu, he honed his craft in Maine and Minnesota before returning to his home state. His culinary creations have been featured in Food Network’s “50 States of Food Trucks,” and earned him local recognition. Many have sampled his creations, which include popular menu items at Broadway Grill and Tavern, Terra Nomad and his food truck, Up North Catering. Together with his partners,
Chris and Julia Tello, Monson is working to create a dining experience unique to the area.

“It’ll be a casual upscale restaurant, but since it’s a destination, we want something that's special,” says Monson. “The inspiration is drawn from right here. There'll be some dishes on the menu that are known in North Dakota, but everything will be reimagined or an upscale version. There’s also a lot of inspiration from Scandinavian-style food.”

The menu will include popular German dishes, like cheese buttons and schnitzel, in addition to Swedish meatballs and smorrebrod, a traditional Danish open-faced sandwich. And, fans of Up North Catering will happy to find some familiar items on the menu, including the Mother Clucker and the Hasselhoff.

“The Mother Clucker is a buttermilk-fried chicken sandwich with cucumber slaw and a spicy green sauce that’s loaded up with North Dakota hemp hearts,” says Monson. “The Hasselhoff is tots topped with super tender, fall apart pork shoulder, sauerkraut, mustard, beer cheese sauce and chives.”

The restaurant, which will be open year-round, will offer indoor and outdoor seating, and every table comes with a view.

“One of the joys of life is just being able to sit down and watch a river. I mean, it's biblical even. Peace like a river, right? So, come see us and take it in,” says Barth.

This summer, grab your shades and take a cruise down River Road. Whether you’re looking to grab a bite, take ride on the riverboat or learn something new, Heritage River Landing has something to special to offer. And who knows, you just might leave inspired.

For more information on Heritage River Landing, visit fortlincoln.org.