"The shelter has made a positive difference in the look of the site and will help the preservation of the State Historical Society’s largest artifact (The locomotive). The structure attracts more attention from the road/sidewalk and allows exceptional visual access while limiting easy access to the steam engine." - Merl Paaverud, State Historical Society
Locomotive Shelter Bismarck, North Dakota
In 1864, the Northern Pacific Railway Company was chartered by Congress to build a line that would connect the Great Lakes to the Pacific Ocean. In 1872, Camp Hancock was established in the North Dakota heartland in order to protect the line and laborers of the fast-approaching railway. The settlement that grew around this outpost is known today as Bismarck, North Dakota. The railroad has always been important to this city, so when the Northern Pacific decommissioned one of its locomotives in 1955 and donated it to the State Historical Society, the landmark was returned to Bismarck’s historic site at Camp Hancock.
The locomotive remained uncovered in its home at Camp Hancock for over 40 years, enduring weathering and deterioration. In 2010, the State Historical Society recognized a need to restore and protect the locomotive, as it stood tribute to the rich past of both Bismarck and the nation. In addition to restoration of the locomotive itself, the state commissioned the construction of a protective shelter that would complement and enhance this historic treasure.
The resulting structure is simple yet powerful, as its building style resonates classic American construction and industry through both form and material use. The clerestory is reminiscent of early 20th century train stations, while the rich wood framing reflects the primary material used in early American settlements. Together, the locomotive and its shelter provide visitors with the chance to experience this pivotal moment in American history. This project received a 2012 AIA North Dakota Merit Award.
The locomotive shelter requires no electricity or heating and used minimal materials.