North Dakota Facts

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North Dakota Infographic

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Location and Geography : North Dakota is geographically in the center of the North American continent, but it is located at the very northern edge of the contiguous United States. It directly borders Canada along the 49th Parallel. The landscape of North Dakota is quite rugged and largely semi-arid, although the temperature is often cold.

Counties and Regions : Present-day North Dakota has 53 counties, which came about after it was separated from South Dakota and admitted as a state in 1889. The states were admitted at the same time, but because North Dakota comes first alphabetically, it is usually declared first sequentially as well. North Dakota is sparsely populated, so there are only four general regions that are necessary to classify:

  • The Badlands
  • Missouri Escarpment
  • Missouri River Corridor
  • Red River Valley

Population : North Dakota has only about 675,000 people, making it the third least-populated state in the union. It has had a problem with brain drain in the past, as educated citizens left for jobs elsewhere. The development of the oil industry has helped to offset this problem.

Major Cities : Bismarck, the state capital, is the second-largest city in the state with a metropolitan population of over 100,000 people. The largest city, Fargo, has about twice that number living in its metropolitan area.

Story Behind the Name : The state is named for the Dakota Indians, who are an offshoot of the large Native American culture known as the Sioux. The former Dakota Territory was split into two portions to be admitted as states, North and South.

History and Colonization : Europeans did not make their way into North Dakota until the middle of the eighteenth century. They traded and interacted a little with the Native American tribes there, but did not do much to enforce their claim on the territory. Lewis and Clark passed through the territory in the early nineteenth century as part of their famous expedition, but also had minimal contact with the native tribes. Even when the area that would later become North Dakota was passed to the ownership of the United States through the Louisiana Purchase, its remoteness and relatively barren landscape drew few settlers.

The growing popularity of the railroads in the later nineteenth century changed everything for the Dakota Territory. It was at last feasible for American settlers to come to the region in large numbers. Still, the area never
drew as many migrants as some of the more fertile regions in the American Midwest. The Dakota Indians were not generally accommodating of intruding white farmers, and military campaigns slowly began to reduce their numbers. Most of the white settlers that came to the region were of Germanic or Nordic ancestry, permanently stamping the culture of North Dakota with their traditions.

Although their population and land holdings were drastically reduced, Native Americans still form a larger percentage of North Dakota’s population than in many other states. Their language, outlook, and way of life still has an impact on the culture of North Dakota today. The state became largely agrarian, although it was sometimes difficult to extract large amounts of crops from the rocky landscape. Measures that were put in place in the early twentieth century to protect the holdings of local farmers still define much of the state’s politics today.

As the automotive and other modern industries began to impact the world, North Dakota found another source of revenue in its many oil shale deposits. Extracting this precious resource has had a counteracting effect on the general loss of educated and skilled residents that the state had been suffering for a few decades. Even though much of North Dakota’s economy is now based around the production of oil fuel, it is praised as one of the least-polluted states in the nation.

More North Dakota Facts & Trivia

1.The town of Rugby is the geographical center of Northern America. It is a rock obelisk that stands almost 15 feet tall and is flanked by poles that have flags of USA and Canada.

2.Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo houses the oldest PRCA rodeo in North Dakota.

3.North Dakota passed a bill in 1987, which made English official language of the state.

4.From 1934 to 1941 the Civilian Conservation Corps operated a base camp close to Medora for performing restoration and landscape work on de Mores City Park and Chateau de Mores State Historic Site. The de Mores City Park was opened on 7th August 1941.

5.Hillsboro is situated in a large, ancient and flat dried lake bottom that is surrounded by some of the most fertile farmlands of the world.

6.President Theodore Roosevelt first came to Dakota in September 1883 for hunting bison. Before he returned to his home in New York, he got interested in cattle business and set up the Elkhorn Ranch and the Maltese Cross Ranch.

7.The official beverage of North Dakota is milk.

8.The globally famous Paul Broste Rock Museum in Parshall has been built using natural granite available in the area. The whole structure was built with voluntary labor and was opened for business purposes in 1965. Paul Broste billed it his Acropolis on a hill.

9.Situated on U.S. Highway 83, Westhope is an entry port into Canada. Every year at least 72,000 vehicles pass the border at this point.

10.The town Minot was conceived in late 1800s and has been named for Henry D. Minot, a young entrepreneur and visionary. The town site was chosen in November 1886 with the expected arrival of the Great Northern Railroad. It was also nicknamed Magic City early on because of its exceptional growth.

11.The Legislative Assembly in 1947 defeated an attempt to do away with North from the state's name. In 1989 again the Legislature denied a couple of similar resolutions.

12.New Leipzig, on Dakota Prairie, stages a yearly Oktoberfest.

13.At the time of its creation in 1861 the state was named after the Indian tribe Dakota. Dakota is a Sioux word that means friends or allies.

14.The yearly Central North Dakota Steam Threshers Reunion is among the major yearly events of New Rockford. It is staged in the third weekend of September and boasts of a wide range of antique farm machinery.

15.Dakota Gasification Company, located in Beulah, is the sole producer of synthetic natural gas in USA.

16.Established in 1978 Fort Berthold Community College is a tribally chartered college and is situated in Fort Berthold Indian Reservation close to New Town.

17.Bottineau acts as the southwestern gateway to Turtle Mountains, International Peace Garden, and Lake Metigoshe.

18.Niewoehner Funeral Home in Rugby has altered the skyline of Rugby by making a 30 feet tower that has 13 bells. The biggest bells weigh almost 1,300 pounds and have diameters of 40 inches each - there are 2 such bells.

19.The Rock State Historic Site close to Grenora has got its name from petroglyphs that were carved into a couple of granite boulders. The origins of these drawings are probably obscure but they possibly show the Thunderbird, which is a sacred mythical figure for Late Prehistoric Plains Indians. Outlines of the bird can be seen on both the boulders.

20.Lake Sakakawea has a big country side. It is almost 200 miles long and has a shoreline of innumerable inlets and bays that are spread over 1,600 miles. It starts from the Garrison Dam that is 2 mile long and ends close to Williston.

21.North Dakota is bordered by Manitoba and Saskatchewan in north, South Dakota in south, Minnesota in east and Montana in west.

22.The American elm or Ulmus Americana is the official state tree of North Dakota and is found commonly across the state. The tree can often reach heights of 120 feet and more.

23.A 50 foot tall pyramid was built using empty oil cans by Max G. Taubert from Casselton. It is supposed to be the tallest ever structure made from oil cans.

24.In 1982 Rutland hosted the cooking and eating of then the biggest hamburger of the world - a feat that helped the town to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records. The burger weighed 3591 pounds and was eaten by almost 8-10 thousand people.

25.Devils Lake is the biggest natural water body in North Dakota and gets its name from Miniwaukan, a Native American word. Early explorers translated the word incorrectly to mean Bad Spirit. The name has also evolved after several legends of lake monsters and drowned warriors. It is a very fertile prairie lake and grows huge amounts of fishes such as walleye, white bass and northern pike. It is also billed as the Global Perch Capital.

26.The rich heritage of Grand Forks has been preserved at Myra Museum. It features an 1890's home that was dedicated to pioneer women, a carriage house, a one-room school, and the first ever log Post Office of the city.

27.The name Roughrider State came up in a state sponsored tourism promotion campaign that took place in 1960s and 70s. It is a reference to the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry organized by Theodore Roosevelt to take part in the Spanish-American War.

28.Turtle Lake hosts the yearly United States Turtle Racing Championship.

29.The Dakota Dinosaur Museum located in Dickinson has 12 full scale dinosaurs including a real Edmontosaurus and a real Triceratops, and thousands of rock, fossil and mineral specimens.

30.North Dakota is 17th with respect to size in USA. It has an aggregate area of 70,665 square miles. It is 360 miles wide and 212 miles long.

31.Richardton houses the Abbey Church, which is a Barvarian Romanesque structure. The church has high arches, 24 paintings of Saints, 52 stained glass windows, and a big carved crucifix.

32.Lawrence Welk went away from his home in Strasburg on his 21st birthday in order to pursue a career in music. He made his national television debut on 2nd July 1955. His show ran for 26 years and is still telecast across USA and various other countries.

33.The Lone Tree Wildlife Management Area is situated southwest of Harvey and has 33,000 acres of gently rolling hills that border Sheyenne River.

34.The Lewis and Clark expedition saw their first grizzly bears in North Dakota.

35.The North Dakota State University research experiment station, located in Hettinger, is the biggest state owned sheep research center of USA.

36.There is a 12 feet tall bronze statue of Sakakawea and her baby son Baptiste at the entrance of North Dakota Heritage Center, Bismarck. The statue, created by Chicago artist Leonard Crunelle, shows Sakakawea with her son strapped to her back and looking toward the country she helped to open.

37.Sitting Bull Burial State Historic Site is located on western edge of Fort Yates and commemorates the first grave of the Hunkpapa Sioux leader. During the Ghost Dance unrest in 1890 an effort was made to take him under arrest at his residence on Grand River, South Dakota. Sitting Bull passed away in the ensuing skirmish.

38.Situated to the southwest of Medora, De Mores State Historic Site commemorates the activities and life of Antoine de Vallombrosa the Marquis de Mores who came to the state in 1883. He did several things like setting up beef packing plant, sheep and cattle farming, a stagecoach line, land ownership, a freight company, Medora town and some refrigerated railway cars.

39.The biggest buffalo monument of the world is at Frontier Village, Jamestown. The structure is 46 feet long and 26 feet high and has a weight of 60 tons.

40.The piles of rock on White Butte, which is the highest point in North Dakota, are also called sheepherder's monuments or rock Johnnies. Legend has it that they were piled there by sheepherders in order to spend time while looking after their flocks.

41.North Dakota grows the maximum number of sunflowers in USA.

42.The International Peace Garden is located on the international boundary shared by North Dakota with Manitoba. In 1956 the North Dakota Motor Vehicle Department placed the words Peace Garden State on license plates. The name proved to be pretty popular and was formally adopted by the 1957 legislature.43.Jamestown College is the oldest independent college in North Dakota and was chartered in 1884.

44.The official state flower of North Dakota is the wild prairie rose. The flower has five bright pink petals along with a cluster of yellow stamens at the center. Roses are grown in the state along roadsides, meadows and pastures.

45.The oldest attraction in Ellendale is the Opera House, which has a seating capacity of 1000 people and was set up in 1909.

46.The Big Hidatsa village site was inhabited from almost 1740 to 1850 and is the biggest of three Hidatsa communities located close to the mouth of Knife River. It is supposed to have the finest defined earth lodge depressions among the main Native American sites in the Great Plains.

47.Kenmare is known as North Dakota's Goose Capital. It is also the hunting haven up north and has a yearly snow goose count of at least 400,000 birds.

48.From 1829 to 1867 Fort Union Trading Post served as the main fur-trading depot in Upper Missouri River region.

49.The Richardson ground squirrels, which are found abundantly in North Dakota are also known as Flickertails. They jerk or flick their tails in a typical manner when they run or just before they get into their burrows.

50.The motto of Minot Air Force Base is Only the Best Come North. It is situated a couple of miles outside the city limits of Minot.

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Last Updated on: September 29th, 2017