Herd of Bison Near Lake Jesse
(in east-central North Dakota)
John Mix Stanley
Courtesy State Historical Society of North Dakota
From 1853 to 1855 John Mix Stanley, along with a young German artist, Gustavus Sohon, accompanied one of the six federal "Explorations and Surveys to Ascertain the most practicable and economical route for a railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean." The expeditions were made under the direction of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis during the administrations of Presidents Millard Fillmore (1850-53) and Franklin Pierce (1854-57). The expedition that Stanley and Sohon accompanied, which was led by Isaac Stevens, compared the possibility and practicality of routes in the vicinity of the 48th parallel.