North Dakota Facts

President Theodore Roosevelt wrote:

… I could never have become President of the United States if I had not had my experiences in the great state of North Dakota…

North Dakota is the Midwestern state that is dominated by the Great Plains. For modern or Native American Art you can visit the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, and the region’s rich immigrant history gets honored at the Minot Scandinavian Heritage Association.

Near the Montana state line, the Great Plains are giving way to the more rocky Badlands. North Dakota’s rich soil originated from the days that the Great Lakes were still here, and this continues to bring agricultural abundance.

North Dakota is the region where Theodore Roosevelt was developing his very dynamic personality and the nation decided to dedicate its only National Memorial Park on a piece of the land that Roosevelt once owned.

North Dakota may be small in population (it is the 4th least densely populated U.S. state with only some 755,000 residents) but it is rich in natural resources and boasts a wealth of impressive tradition. The state holds the greatest lignite reserves in the world.

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Quick Facts about North Dakota

– The capitol is North Dakota’s tallest building, the ‘Skyscraper on the Prairie’.
– North Dakota leads the nation in the lignite industry.
– First in the U.S. in spring wheat, rye, and flax production.
– Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park

North Dakota brief history

In 1738, European explorers visited the area that now is North Dakota for the first time, when Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Sieur de La Verendrye, together with his two sons, reached the On-A-Slant Indian Village, a 400-year-old Mandan Indian Village, that had been thriving for over 200 years.

The Mandan Indians were hunters and gardeners who lived in permanent villages. In 1797, during a bitter winter, David Thompson, a British scientist and his party, were also visiting a few Mandan villages on the Missouri River.

After the historic Louisiana Purchase, the impressive Lewis and Clark expedition provided detailed reports of the area when they were spending the winter of 1804-05 at a location they named ‘Fort Mandan’, near the Arikam and Mandan villages, just north of present-day Washburn, where the Indians lived in log cabins that were chinked with mud.

When they left their winter camp to continue their great expedition in 1805, on April 7th, Lewis and Clark were sending a great deal of information back to the civilized world that included many new or unusual animals and plants as well as details on various Indian tribes. When they went back east in 1806, Lewis and Clark visited their Indian friends again at Fort Mandan.

Their expedition played a crucial role in keeping a peaceful relation with western Indians Tribes for many years to come. After the Lewis and Clark expedition had explored the area, several fur trading posts opened, and William Douglas set up a Scottish permanent settlement in 1812 near what we now know as Pembina.

The American Fur Company established Fort Union in 1828 on the Missouri River’s North Dakota side (near what is now Williston) and for some forty years, this trading post was the most important in the entire region.

In 1857, Fort Abercrombie became the first federal stronghold in the area, and the Dakota Territory was established in 1861. For a long period of time, all sorts of Indian warfare was going on until, in 1881, the majority of the Sioux Tribe’s people had gone back to their reservation life.

The first cornerstone of North Dakota’s capitol building was laid by former U.S. President Ulysses Grant in 1883, and Theodore Roosevelt settled in the state in 1883 to become a popular and successful rancher. The most horrendous of a lot of prairie fires was sweeping the region on September 25th of 1888.

Both North and South Dakota became U.S. states in 1889, on November 2nd. When President Harrison was signing the bills for the two states he refused to reveal which of the two he signed first, so till today, nobody knows which of the Dakota’s is technically the 39th or 40th U.S. state.

North Dakota was among the first states to enact child labor and some other modern laws when ‘Honest John’ Burke became governor in the year 1906. More than 31,000 North Dakota residents were serving in World War I, and over 1,200 gave their lives.

North Dakota began to operate its own businesses such as banks (but also some until then private businesses) in 1919, a pretty unique action among states. At World War II, over 61,000 North Dakotans went into the armed forces, and almost 1,940 of them lost their lives. In 1951, oil was discovered in the area, which brought the state a new economic surge.

North Dakota completed a big number of artificial lakes and a large-scale irrigation system during the 1970s which also contributed to its economy, and by the early 1980s, North Dakota had already produced more wheat than Kansas.