August 7, 2012

North Dakota – “The Peace Garden State”


North Dakota Map

Just the Facts…


bird – Western Meadowlark
flower – Wild Prairie Rose
tree – American Elm
capital – Bismark
union – 39th state on November 2, 1889
population – about 700,000




The Basics 

North Dakota is part of the Great Plains and borders Canada.  Most of the state is prairie, with it being flatter in eastern North Dakota and more hilly in the western part of the state.  There are trees where water naturally flows, such as ravines and valleys.

Eastern North Dakota is part of the Red River Valley, which is a fertile area that supports many farms.  It is also an area that is susceptible to flooding, because the river flows from south to north (that’s crazy – most rivers flow from north to south!).  The Red River travels north across Canada and empties into Lake Winnipeg, which flows into the Hudson Bay,  which is part of the Arctic Ocean!    Because of this unique situation, the Red River is very susceptible to flooding – the water that melts down south can’t go very far because the rest of the river is still frozen.

North Dakota and South Dakota were admitted into the Union on the same day!  And, no one knows which was technically admitted first.  There was a lot of discussion and competition about which state should be admitted first so President Harrison shuffled the papers on his desk.  To this day, no one really knows which paper he signed first.   The Dakota are listed alphabetically – North Dakota is listed first simply because “N” comes before “S.”


Its Claim to Fame

Bakken oil shale fields – oil has been discovered in western North Dakota!  In fact, it was discovered over 50 years ago.  But, at the time there was no way to reach it. The oil is under the Bakken formation, a large layer of rock that is beneath the earth’s surface in western North Dakota, Montana and Canada.   A new technique was developed in 2008, called rock fracturing, has allowed people to reach this oil for the first time.  And, now some are calling it the new oil boom.


What Makes it Tick

North Dakota was not settled until the railroads came to the area.  The railroads allowed for “cash-crop farming”  – farmers could grow large crops of one item and sell their crops to food companies for money.  Before the railroads could transport crops to metropolitan areas, most farmers engaged in “subsistence farming” – meaning that they grew the food they needed to survive.   These farmers would grow a wide variety of crops (in order to eat a variety of food) and barter the excess for other items they needed in life.

North Dakota is a farming state.  It is a large producer of grains (wheat, hay, rye, barley, and oats) and beans (pinto beans, soybeans and navy beans).  It also produces a lot of seeds that are pressed for their oil (sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, and canola seeds).  North Dakota grows more durum wheat than any other state.  You might be asking – “What is durum wheat?”  It is the kind of wheat used to make pasta.  Maybe the wheat used to make your last bowl of macaroni and cheese was grown in North Dakota!


If You Visited

If you visited North Dakota, you might visit Rugby, North Dakota.   It is the geographic center of North America!  There is a stone monument sitting at the exact center of our continent.

You might also go to a Pow-Wow.  North Dakota has a large Native American population, and pow-wows are a big part of their heritage and culture.  Pow-wows are usually held in the spring to celebrate the return of life to the earth.  The United Tribes International Pow-Wow is held in Bismark, North Dakota every September.  It is one of the biggest pow-wows in America and anyone is invited!  Pow-wows are known for their music and dancing, and many Native Americans wear their ceremony clothing, complete with brightly colored beads and feathers.

Or, you might attend the Norst Hoksfest, a Scandanavian festival that takes place every year in Minot, North Dakota.  It is the largest festival of its kind and reflects the large Norwegian population in North Dakota.  Many people came to North Dakota from the Scandanavian countries, in search of the free land offered under the Homestead Act.


Want to Know More? 

Check our North Dakota state scrapbook for an industry map, state symbols and information we received from the Governor and Board of Tourism.

Do you live in North Dakota?  Or, maybe you have visited North Dakota?  We want to hear from you!!  Post a comment at the end of this page.

  • What is your very favorite place in North Dakota?
  • What is your favorite thing to eat?
  • What is your favorite thing to do?
  • What other special or unique facts do you want to share about your home state?

Do you have any photos of North Dakota to share? Email them to: Or, post them to our Facebook page:

Our tour includes just a few things that are interesting and special about North Dakota.  Visit these websites to learn more: