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North Dakota (Nd): State Guide and Fun Facts

When did North Dakota become a state?
November 2, 1889

Who were the first explorers in North Dakota?
Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Verendrye

First Native American settlers?
Assiniboine, Lakota Sioux, Hidatsa, Mandan, Arikara, Ojibwe, Dakota and Nakota Sioux

Square Miles:

US Rank:

State Flower:
Wild Prairie Rose

State Bird:
Western Meadowlark

State Motto:
Liberty and Union Nor and Forever, One and Inseparable

Capital City

The city of Bismarck North Dakota was founded in 1872. It was originally called Edwinton, named after Edwin Ferry Johnson, who was an important engineer involved in building the Northern PacificRailway. Just one year later, however, the city was renamed Bismarck, after a prominent German named Otto von Bismarck who was considering investing money in the area.

Bismarck became the state’s capital when North Dakota gained its statehood in November of 1889. The capital is the second largest metropolitan area in the state after the city of Fargo. In 2009, it had an estimated population (including metropolitan regions) of 106,286.

The economy of Bismarck is centered on the government, retail businesses and the health care industry.

What is North Dakota famous for?

1. Badlands
The badlands of North Dakota are located within Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The term badland itself refers to general topographic and geological conditions, which are found all over the Earth. Badlands are designated in areas where dry rocks and soil that is primarily clay-based have been eroded by the elements over time, leaving behind vast formations such as canyons, hills, cliffs, ravines and jagged rock formations. Badlands were first named by the Lakota Native Americans, who called the area “bad land” in their native language. European explorers gave the area similar names.

The badlands in Theodore Roosevelt National Park are no longer looked upon as “bad land” to natives or visitors. Instead, these formations are admired for their uniqueness and beauty in the surrounding landscape.

2. International Peace Garden
The state of North Dakota is sometimes called “The Peace Garden State” because of the beautiful garden that was built almost a century ago in its northernmost region. The International Peace Garden, founded in 1932, is located on the border of North Dakota and Canada. The areas features extensive landscaping with shrubs, indigenous trees and foliage, and hundreds of thousands of flowers that are planted each year.

One of the most prominent features in the park are four large peace towers, two of which are located in the United States, and the other two of which are located in Canada. Together, the four towers seem to create a whole object in their negative space. At the base of the towers is a small chapel for reflection.

3. Lawrence Welk
Lawrence Welk, one of America’s best loved musicians and TV personalities, was born in the tiny town of Strasburg, North Dakota. His life began in 1903; Welk was born to German immigrants and was raised in the predominantly German town of Strasburg. From early on in his life, he enjoyed music, spending time of the family farm dreaming about becoming a musician. He learned the accordion when he was a young adult, and on his twenty-first birthday, he branched out into the unknown, leaving his family in pursuit of his dream.

Welk could not have lived a life more like the one he dreamed. He went on to play in bands and an orchestra, and he graduated from the MacPhail School of Music in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In 1951, Lawrence Welk got his big break, and started filming for The Lawrence Welk Show. By 1955, the show had been bought by ABC to be aired nationally. The variety show featured music, skits, monologues and dancing. The show remained on air until 1982, ending as one of the most watched and well-liked television programs and hosts in the history of television.

What is North Dakota’s economy?

1. Agriculture
The agriculture of North Dakota is based on key livestock and crop categories. The most important livestock raised by farmers are beef cattle. Following cattle are milk, hogs and bees for honey. The most prominent crops are hay (for feed), wheat, barley, sunflower seeds, canola seeds, beans, rye and sugar beets.

2. Manufacturing
The largest manufacturers in North Dakota are responsible for the production of agricultural products and food processing. The state processes commodities such as bead, potato products, oils, dairy products, cheeses, meat products and sugar from sugar beets. Besides food, North Dakota manufactures heavy construction and farm machines, computers, electronics, metals and automobile parts.

3. Services
The services industry in North Dakota is centered around community and private small businesses. These include private health care companies, law firms, hotels, wholesale and retail trade operations, financial service companies, insurance companies, banks and real estate agencies.

North Dakota Historical Landmarks

1. Fort Union Trading Post
Located in Williams County, North Dakota, the Fort Union Trading Post is a National Historic Site that was built in 1828. The building itself was designed by the American Fur Trading Company and built by the Upper Missouri Outfit. The site contains a partially restored building that was instrumental in the trading that took place on the Missouri River between the North Dakota and Montana Border. This building was the location for the trading of various commodities, which in the 19th century included buffalo furs, beads, smoking apparatus, fabric, artillery, blankets, cookware and alcohol.
The site was declared a National Historic Landmark on July 4, 1961.

2. Former Governors’ Mansion
Located in the capital city of North Dakota, in Bismarck, the former Governors’ Mansion is an architecturally masterful example of Victorian architecture, constructed in the late 19th century. The home was completed in 1884 for Asa Fisher, a liquor dealer, register for the city of Bismark and bank president. He sold his house after nine years and it became the home for the governors of the state from 1893 until 1960.
Fifteen years after the governors’ mansion was moved elsewhere, the State Historical Society of North Dakota acquired the home, and completed extensive restorations on its interior and exterior. It was opened to the public for tours shortly after the work was completed.

3. Turtle Effigy
Located near the border of Mercer County in North Dakota is a State Historic Site that contains a peculiar rock formation. Known as the turtle effigy, the site contains a series of large stones arranged to form the outline of a turtle. It is believed that it was created by Native Americans, who recognized turtles are being important symbols in their rituals.