North Dakota is, at times, referred to as a "High Plains" state, with Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to its south, Montana to the west and the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba to the north.
A stone marker in Rugby identifies itself as being the "Geographic Center of the North American Continent".
North Dakota History
First settled by the Native Americans several thousand years ago, it wasn't until the mid-1700's (1738 - 1740) that French Canadians, led by Sieur de la Verendyre, explored the region. The major tribes in the area at that time included the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Sioux and Chippewa.
La Verendyre visited the Mandan tribes in 1738 and was amazed at their level of development, especially in agricultural prowess and trading.
The U.S. acquired most of North Dakota from France in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase. Following the purchase, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned the Corps of Discovery and selected Lewis and Clark to lead the expedition.
In North Dakota, led by Sakakawea, a Lemhi Shoshone woman who acted as their interpreter and guide, they explored the territory. Their party built Fort Mandan where they spent the winter of 1804-05. Sakakawea traveled with them during their continued exploration of the western United States.
In a treaty with Great Britain, signed in 1818, the U.S. obtained the northeast section of North Dakota, including the Pembina settlement. Pembina was first a fur-trading post and then became a permanent settlement in 1812.
The Dakota Territory, which included present day North and South Dakota and parts of Wyoming and Montanawas organized in March 1861. The territory remained sparsely settled until the late 19th century when railroads entered the region.
The railroads spurred the economic growth and development due to the ability of transporting agricultural products, such as wheat, flaxseed and cattle.
Statehood for both North and South Dakota was established on November 2, 1889. The exact order of admission of the two states remains unknown. However, because of the alphabetical position, North Dakota is considered to be the 39th state and South Dakota, the 40th.
By 1910, there was a large population of settlers, comprised of German Americans, Scandinavian Americans and Yankees.
The largest majority were the Germans whose origins could be traced back to the Volga River area in Russia. The influx of these arrivals was so large that the south-central part of North Dakota became known as the "German-Russian Triangle".
North Dakota is considered to be the most rural of all the states in the U.S. with more than 90% of the land devoted to farming. The production of spring and durum wheat, barley, rue, sunflowers, beans, honey, oats, sugar beets, hay flaxseed, hay, beef cattle and sheep ranks it first in the nation for agriculture.
Recently, food processing and the production of farm equipment have expanded. The oil and coal reserves are plentiful and North Dakota is one of the most prosperous states in the U.S. and also boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates.
With its upper Midwest location, weather conditions can vary widely. North Dakota has distinct four seasons. In 2009, the American Lung Association ranked Fargo as the cleanest city in the U.S. with an A rating for air quality.
North Dakota offers many options for visitors. It's home to more wildlife refuges than any other state. With wide-open spaces, it's an outdoor enthusiast's paradise with hiking, biking, canoeing, camping, golfing, wildlife viewing and horseback riding. North Dakota is also a favorite destination for grouse, pheasant and deer hunting.
Opened in 1932, the International Peace Garden straddles the border of Canada and North Dakota near the town of Denseith and receives more than 150,000 visitors per year.
In honor of this historic and signifcant monument, in 1957 the legislature declared the official nickname of North Dakota to be the Peace Garden State.
Fargo, the state's largest city, is home to the Roger Maris Museum, the North Dakota native baseball super star. Minot hosts the Norsk Hostfest each year - North Ameria's largest Scandinavian festival.
With its Indian history, the Louis and Clark trail and many national historical sites, North Dakota is a fascinating travel destination and one of America's most affordable vacation sites.