McLean County
 Historical Society Museums

  Located in Historic Washburn, ND at 610 Main Avenue on the banks of the mighty Missouri River



Museums & Exhibits

      The McLean County Historical Society Museums include a variety of buildings and displays.  Click the photo below to learn more about each piece of history.  Also take a look at the Lewis & Clark Mural on an outside wall next to the original museum. 

Main Building

Original Museum

Joe Taylor Cabin

Sioux Ferry

School house

 Main Building
Exhibits in the main building, including in the expansion, include:



  • Geology, including various fossils
  • Wildlife
  • Lewis & Clark history
  • Riverboat display
  • Doctor's office &  instruments
  • Barbershop and beauty shop
  • Bedroom
  • Dining room and kitchen
  • Laundry room
  • Farm tools
  • Military memorabilia and uniforms
  • Replicas of historic buildings
  • Native American artifacts
  • Coal industry history
  • Musical instruments
  • Many photos, paintings, and scrapbooks
       Books for sale:
  • McLean County Heritage, 1978
  • Pioneer Mothers by Williams
  • Pioneer Days of Washburn and Vicinity by Williams
  • Books about Lewis & Clark and their travels
  • Book on Building of the Garrison Dam.

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Original Building
The original museum, called the Fred Jefferies Building, was built in 1905 as the McLean County Courthouse.  It contains numerous exhibits as listed below, and houses an old print shop in the attached former fire hall/former jail, with equipment from the Washburn Leader newspaper. 


  • Train station items
  • Post office
  • Country store
  • Organization items including Boy Scouts, Campfire Girls, 4-H, and Homemakers club
  • Living room
  • Bedroom
  • Office machines
  • Fred Jefferies' desk from his newspaper office
  • Vintage clothing including buffalo robes and a collection of ladies' hats
  • Toys

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 Joe Taylor Cabin

      Joseph Henry Taylor, a Quaker from Pennsylvania, was a trapper and hunter who was also scholarly and had a great interest in nature. He had served in the cavalry of the Union Army and one year as an Indian fighter. 
      He staked his claim in 1871 and built his cabin at Painted Woods in 1869.  A printer by trade, he wrote 4 books and numerous newspaper articles during his 40 years of pioneering in North Dakota.  He was the editor of the Washburn paper, the McLean County Mail. 
     The Taylor cabin was moved to Washburn in 1932 for Washburn's 50th anniversary and for preservation and exhibit.  It is located in the 1000 block of East Main Avenue, next to the Medcenter One clinic. 

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  Sioux Ferry Boat


      Located at Riverside Park in Washburn along the river, the Sioux Ferry was one of the last ferries used on the Missouri River.  It was built by Oscar Anderson in about 1950.  It ran for 10 years from 1952 until 1962, when it was closed down because of navigation problems. The Sioux could transport three cars at one time.  Part of the history of Washburn and the river, this ferry is a permanent display at the park. 

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The Old School House

     The old school was Nettle Creek, built in 1882.  It was moved into town in 1950 from the Lechner (Doepke ) farm,  through efforts of Mrs. W. K Williams.  To the northwest of the School house are several pieces of old farm machinery. 

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 Lewis & Clark Mural


      Local Washburn artist Bill Reynolds created a mural of Lewis and Clark’s stay at Fort Mandan. Located on Main Street, adjacent to the two McLean County Historical Museums, the mural is colorful and detailed and located in the heart of business activity in Washburn.

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Copyright 2006-2008, McLean County Historical Society
Comments regarding website to Webdiva 
Last updated: September 2006