The birthday of Sidney dates back to 1888. The story goes that a
post office for the
new town site was being delayeduntil a proper name had been chosen. Mr. and Mrs. Walters and their six year old son, Sidney, were living in the home of Justice of the Peace, Hiram Otis, at the time. Judge Otis had grown very fond of Sidney, so while he was making out the papers, he decided that Sidney would make a good name for the new town. In 1911 Sidney became an incorporated town.During the early 1900’s demand and prices for farm products were the highest in history, leading the federal government to launch large scale irrigation projects throughout the west. One of the earliest projects was on the Yellowstone River from 1904-1909. With irrigated land, agriculture became the most important industry in the area. This holds true today with sugar beets being the leading cash crop.Until 1914 Sidney was part of Dawson County.
But May 14th of that year, following a wave of excitement and petition signing, the residents of Sidney voted to form a separate county with Sidney as the county seat. Thus, Richland County was born.The late 1978’s and early 1980’s brought an influx of oil activity to the Sidney area. Although the boom is now over, production continues with rigs and pumping units doting the hillsides all around Sidney.River floating on the Yellowstone River makes for an enjoyable summer pastime. During the summer the current in the Yellowstone averages 4 to 6 miles per hour. There are access points near Sidney where floaters can put in the water. The Lower Yellowstone offers over 20 species of fish, making an enjoyable dinner only a hook and line away. Fort Union, located just 20 miles northeast of Sidney is a worthwhile drive for history and nature buffs to make. In October 1828, construction of the post was underway and it soon became the center of the Northern Rocky Mountain Fur Trade. At its peak in the 1830’s the post, along with other American Fur Company forts in the region sent to St. Louis an annual harvest of more than 25,000 beaver skins, 30,000 deer skins, and 55,000 buffalo hides. Historians today have come to call Fort Union the largest and most imposing trade post on the Missouri River.During the mid 1830’s the decline of the fur trade began as textiles began to replace furs on the fashion scene. By the mid 1850’s ownership of the fort had changed hands several times as the demand for furs lessened each passing year. After a short period as the rendezvous point for the Great Northern Railroad survey crews, Fort Union as a money making enterprise ceased to exist.
Fort Buford was the result of the timbers from the Fort Union being sold to the U.S. Army, which constructed a military fort a few miles east of the post. The fort was constructed to protect settlers from the hostile Sioux Indians.
The new fort housed five companies of soldiers and a few remnants of Northwestern Fur Company which continued to trade in buffalo hides until the bison were gone.Over the next 25 years, Fort Buford was to see its share of highlights of war for the plains. At one time or another the fort housed such noted Indian prisoners as Chief Joseph, Crow King, Ran-In-The-Face and even the Hunkpapa Sioux Medicine Man and Sitting Bull.Today, Fort Buford inmaintained as a historical site by the State of North Dakota. There is a visitors center and a museum in one of the restored building on the grounds. A visit to the for is a must for anyone who wants to feel for the military life on the frontier during the latter part of the 19th century.