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Category Archives: History

Happy Ag Day!

I’ve just learned that its Ag Day 2013 which has inspired me to get back to blogging. I’m sorry for the long lag!

Being a North Dakotan who was raised rural, I often forget that others don’t have a familiarity with the beauty of agriculture and the enormity of farm production. I’m from the Red River Valley, an area known for its fertile farm lands. To me, there’s nothing more beautiful than miles of plush, green fields, for as far as the eye can see. Visitors to North Dakota frequently call the Tourism Division and ask about the types of crops they’re seeing in the state. Whether its fields of blooming purple flowers (flax), small yellow flowers (canola) or those photogenic sunflowers, we love to help our visitors learn more about the scenery they’ll find here.

sunflowers

Agriculture is North Dakota’s #1 industry. According to research at North Dakota State University, it contributed $7.8 billion to the state’s economy in 2011. And North Dakota leads the nation in production of sunflowers, barley, dry edible beans, pinto beans, canola, flaxseed, honey, lentils, dry edible peas, durum wheat and spring wheat.

So I’m sharing a bit about North Dakota’s agriculture today and there are three tourism-related spins that I want to put on this #1 industry: 1) how to enjoy the beauty; 2) how to enjoy the production; and 3) how to learn more and experience agriculture.

Enjoy the Beauty

Knee high by the 4th of July? This is my family, in the Red River Valley, late June, 2012.

Knee high by the 4th of July? This is my family, in the Red River Valley, late June, 2012.

Agriculture, including ranching, is everywhere in North Dakota, covering approximately 39.2 million acres. Any spring, summer or fall trip through the state and you’re guaranteed to see the land in some phase of production. Most spring planting occurs in April and May, with harvest spanning a wide time frame, depending on the crop. Harvest takes place anywhere between July and November. Visitors can journey throughout North Dakota and also make stops at specific farms and gardens, such as Dakota Sun Gardens near Carrington and Black Leg Ranch near Bismarck – where you can even saddle up for your tour. Photo opportunities are plentiful!

Enjoy the Production

THIS is where agriculture gets yummy! Consider for a moment the Red Barn and Berry Farm near Kindred. Here you can pick raspberries and even nibble as you go – without fear of being weighed on your way out! Farmer’s Markets can be found in cities large-and-small, like the Town Square Farmers Market in Grand Forks – taking place Saturdays mid-June through September. And check out the North Dakota products marketed by Pride of Dakota! You’ll find everything from delicious Dakota Growers Pasta to lotions made of honey.

Learn More

harvest07-5Agriculture in North Dakota has history. Visitors can relive farming on the prairie at Bonanzaville in West Fargo or experience what a northern “plantation” was like at the Bagg Bonanza Farm near Mooreton. And if ranching is more your interest, there’s no better place than the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora. Not just a hall of honorees! This museum celebrates western heritage and culture.

Interested in the scientific side of agriculture? Visit the Langdon Research Extension Center or the North Central Research Extension Center of Minot and see how tests are being done to maintain and improve the industry.

If you really want to get your hands dirty, North Dakota has opportunities for that too! GardenDwellers Farm of Esmond has classes, events and “group play” in production of herbs. Sheer sheep and spin your own wool at Wooly Girls, near Wales. Get your feet dirty at the Red Trail Vineyard Harvest Festival and Grape Stomp.

 

Celebrate Ag

Milking a cow at the North Dakota State Fair

Milking a cow at the North Dakota State Fair

Okay … I’m going to throw in a fourth way to enjoy agriculture in North Dakota and that’s in celebration. Here you can find festivals for rhubarb, chokecherries, apples, sauerkraut, lefse, ribs, turkeys, watermelon, sunflowers, corn, potatoes and even lobster. The North Dakota State Fair has competitive exhibiting (and great entertainment). There’s also a huge annual event called the Big Iron Farm Show that draws more than 80,000 people.

 

Agriculture and tourism blend together brilliantly in North Dakota. In fact, we have an AgriTourism program helping connect travelers to all these ways to experience the industry and helping producers expand their businesses by offering tourism components. Learn more online.

 

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See the Heritage Center now to prepare for seeing it again

The North Dakota Heritage Center – the state’s largest museum and headquarters of the State Historical Society of ND – is undergoing a massive expansion, one that will double the space for exhibits and provide needed archival and exhibit preparation space – including space used for fossil-prep by paleontologists. But this kind of project takes time.  The expansion began in 2011 and the first exhibits will arrive in the spring of 2013.  The project is expected to be completed in 2014 and we’ll celebrate with a grand re-opening and North Dakota’s 125th birthday.

While the Heritage Center, located in Bismarck, enters its next phase of expansion, the Main Gallery needs to be closed. But not before a Last Hurrah! October 11-14, a celebration of the past – and the future – will take place.  The weekend will include Tipi stories, presentations, Native American dancers and singers, mask making and other projects for children – and more!

The Heritage Center store is relocating but will remain open and staff will be on-hand to answer questions about the expansion and exhibits. If you’re wondering what happens to the exhibits and archives, we learned that they will be moved into spaces for both safety and refurbishing. This includes Dakota the mummified dinosaur, which will be back on display in the expanded Heritage Center.

History buffs can still get their fix in North Dakota! Learn about 56 historic sites maintained in the state along with any upcoming events at http://www.history.nd.gov

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2012 in Attractions, Family Fun, History

 

Guest Blog : Undiscovered Travels in North Dakota – A Memeorable RV Experience

This guest blog comes from our friends at El Monte RV Rentals who invite others to explore North Dakota as they did.

Here’s a great way to produce an eyebrow-arching reaction from your friends: tell them that you’re going to take a trip to North Dakota this year. That’s right, North Dakota – home state of bubbly bandleader Lawrence Welk, zen coaching great Phil Jackson and peppery actress Angie Dickinson, to name just a few famous North Dakotans. Those who think the only thing to do in North Dakota is shovel snow 10 months out of the year would be very surprised to find out just how much fun you can have in our 39th state. And because so many still think this way, you’re not going to find the usual suffocating crowds and long lines that plague so many of the country’s top destinations. So pack your bags, rent an RV and get ready for a memorable and truly relaxing vacation.

Begin your trip in the eastern part of the state with a stop at the Prairie Rose Carousel in Wahpeton, open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Even people without kids will marvel at seeing this fully restored 1926 Spillman model featuring 20 intricately painted wooden horses, two chariots and a calliope – it’s one of only 150 working carousels left in the country. And should you fancy a ride, it’s just $1.50.

From there, it’s a short drive to Bonanzaville in West Fargo. Learn about prairie life in the 1800′s as you stroll through more than 40 restored vintage buildings, including homes, schools, stores, depots and banks. On-site museum collections feature tractors, buggies, medical equipment and aircraft, including a C-47 that was used during the D-Day invasion.

To see an amazing collection of vintage aircraft that still fly, check out the nearby Fargo Air Museum, which features the F4-U Corsair, L 39 Jet, TBM Avenger, P 51 Mustang, Fairchild PT-19A, L 19 Bird dog, Bell Helicopter and “Duggy – the Smile in the Sky” DC 3.

courtesy of National Scenic Byways OnlineNext, drive north to Dunseith to visit the International Peace Garden located on the US-Canadian border. Constructed in 1932 as a symbol of friendship between the two countries, the 2339-acre Peace Garden offers vibrant displays of over 150,000 flowers including an 18-foot floral clock. It’s open year-round but the best views are when the park is at full bloom mid-July through August. Take time to park at one of the campgrounds to hike the surrounding Turtle Mountain forests and do some serious bird watching.

courtesy of National Scenic Byways OnlineAlso worth a stop is nearby Lake Metigoshe State Park, where you can enjoy acres of pristine wilderness, a crisp mountain lake and hike the 3-mile Old Oak Trail, the state’s first Recreation Trail. Here you can experience the rugged beauty of nature while you unplug from life’s day-to-day distractions.

After a day or two of true R&R, you’ll be ready to head back south to Bismarck, the state capital and home to a number of can’t miss historical attractions. The North Dakota Heritage Center museum is open year-round, and documents the entire history of the land from its formation and pre-historic dinosaurs to the western expansion era, Indian encounters and industrial age growth. You can also learn about the U.S.S. North Dakota and other nautical interests in the Hall of Honors section of the Museum.

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the InteriorFamed explorers Lewis and Clark travelled the Missouri River (which is actually longer than the Mississippi) through this part of North Dakota with Indian guide Sakakawea, and their adventures are highlighted at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center next to Fort Mandan, just a short drive from Bismarck. You can try on a buffalo robe, learn about the fur trade and view breathtaking watercolors by Karl Bodmer, regarded as one of the best eyewitness illustrators of Upper Midwest Indian Cultures.

In addition to Fort Mandan, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park located on the west side of the Missouri boasts an impressive array of historical attractions, including reconstructed Indian earth lodges and General George Custer’s last Calvary post and reconstructed home. It was from this fort that he rode out to meet his fate at the hands of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors.

by Mary Brazell, courtesy of National Park Service

The western part of North Dakota is where you’ll find Theodore Roosevelt National Park, a panoramic tribute to our 26th President’s fervent belief in conservation, located near the town of Medora. You can read about the former president’s adventures in his own words and explore his Maltese Cross and Elkhorn ranches, surrounded by the austere beauty of the western badlands. Gain a unique perspective of the area from a saddle –guided horseback tours are available at Peaceful Valley Ranch within the Park.

Wrap up your tour by taking in a performance of the Medora Musical – a rollicking family-friendly entertainment adventure with singing, dancing and even live horses in a show that reflects upon the time Roosevelt spent in the area. The show is performed nightly during the summer months, and includes a mix of modern country, gospel and patriotic songs.

Amusing, restful, historic and panoramic – all very suitable words you can use to describe your journey through the quietly remarkable state of North Dakota.

Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals.  You can see more great RV vacation ideas in their Monty’s Musings RV Travel Blog and be sure to check out their Camping Pictures

 

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Travel back in time when you experience the Custer story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s May 17. One-hundred-thirty-six years ago this day Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry based at Fort Abraham Lincoln in the Dakota Territory left their post and journeyed west on the Centennial Campaign into the valley of the Little Big Horn.  It was an attempt to force non-treaty Indians back to their respective reservations.  Outnumbered, outgunned and outmaneuvered, over 260 men were killed during the ensuing battle, including all five of Custer’s companies.

The Custer story is legendary in North Dakota – shared with visitors at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park south of Mandan and along the Custer Trail Auto Tour through the Little Missouri Grasslands near Medora.

May 17th also marks the 25th anniversary of the groundbreaking for Custer House – the reconstructed home of George and Libby Custer. Visitors to Fort Abraham Lincoln can tour Custer House and the rebuilt cavalry post commissary, barracks and outbuildings.  They can hear the stories of how the first fort – Fort McKeen – was created to protect railway expansion. By 1874, then known as Fort Abraham Lincoln, it had become the largest and most important fort in the Dakota Territory and was the starting point of Black Hills Expansion to confirm rumors of gold.

Daily tours are available at Fort Lincoln and at On-A-Slant Indian Village - another “don’t miss” attraction of Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.  On-A-Slant was a large village of the Mandan people dating to around 1575.  It suffered greatly from a smallpox epidemic in 1781.  Visitors today are guided by interpreters as they tour reconstructed earthlodges and hear stories of the Mandan people.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in Attractions, History

 

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Happy Holidays!

If you’re coming home for the holidays or taking a little of your Christmas break to travel this season, our travel counselors at North Dakota Tourism will be available during office hours from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. CST.  Our office will be closed on Monday, Dec. 26 and Monday, Jan. 2.

This year you won’t find much snow in North Dakota, but our ski area remain open and there’s still LOTS to do, including hiking and biking the Maah Daah Hey Trail during these 40-degree days.  The Missouri River has open-water fishing and some smaller lakes and bays are frozen for ice fishing.  Great destinations like the North Dakota Heritage Center, the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and the International Peace Gardens are open.  Tour through Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  See Fort Mandan and hear stories of the Corps of Discovery from the winter of 1804-1805.  Take in a hockey game and cheer for North Dakota State University as they travel to the FCS Championship!  It’s a great time to enjoy North Dakota.

Happy holidays!

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Fishing, History, Just for Fun, Winter Fun

 

Welcome to North Dakota!

Two-hundred-seven (207) years ago today, the Lewis and Clark Expedition crossed into what is now North Dakota.  During their time, it was known as the Upper Missouri, or the Great Bend of the Missouri, or Upper Louisiana.   For Lewis and Clark, North Dakota was the transition zone between the familiar and the unfamiliar, between lands that had already been mapped, named and described and terra incognita.

They hadn’t originally planned to winter with the 4,500 Mandan and Hidatsa Indians of the Knife River earthlodge villages.  Clark planned to get as far as the “Rock mountains” before winter and Lewis expressed uncertainty about where they would stop.  But when the captains began to notice ice forming on their rowing oars and experienced their first northern plains snowfall on October 21, 1804, they realized that they must soon establish winter quarters.  Five days later, they made their first substantial contact with the Mandan Indians, who had a reputation for being friendly to visitors.  And they ended up staying 197 days on that outward journey.

North Dakota continues to have a welcoming and friendly reputation.  In fact, Cambridge University called North Dakota the most friendly state to visit.  And here, the Lewis & Clark story can be discovered by modern explorers.

A reconstructed Fort Mandan is a full-size replica refurbished in the era.  (The original fort burned down sometime before the expedition’s return voyage in 1806.)

At Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, Stanton, visitors can step into a reconstructed earthlodge, walk to the Sakakawea Village site, and in the modern visitors center, view traditional clothing, tools, art and more.

The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Washburn is the comprehensive stop to learn, see and experience the Corps of Discovery.  These sites are open year-round and winter events at Fort Mandan mean you can step back into the period when Lewis and Clark walked the same trails.

Details of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in North Dakota can be found in the book, A Vast and Open Plain, written by Clay Jenkinson.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2011 in Attractions, History

 

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Hostfest is happening!

Not only is Norsk Hostfest the most happening Scandinavian festival in North America, but it literally is going on as planned.  Next week (September 27-October 1), visitors can indulge in Nordic culture and entertainment.  More than 200 internationally recognized artisans, crafters and chefs participate.

This year’s entertainers include Martina McBride, Trace Adkins, the Judds, Bill Gaither and Charley Pride.  Limited tickets are available online and by phone.

Consider making a day trip for your Norsk Hostfest and Minot fun!  The Scandinavian Heritage Park with its full-size replica of the Gol Stave Church is a “don’t miss” attraction.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Events, Family Fun, History

 

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The final five

Roger Maris hit  home run #57 fifty-years-ago today.

Visitors to the Roger Maris Museum at West Acres Shopping Center in Fargo can see the ball – which was thrown by Detroit Pitcher Frank Larry and hit out of Tiger Stadium.  Fifty-seven home runs in a single season is a feat still only achieved by 10 MLB hitters since 1921 (Baseball Almanac).

Fifty-years since 61 culminated with these last five:

  • September 16 – Game 151 vs. Detroit
  • September 17 – Game 152 vs. Detroit – off pitcher Terry Fox
  • September 20 – Game 155 vs. Baltimore – off pitcher Milt Pappas
  • September 26 – Game 159 vs. Baltimore – off pitcher Jack Fisher
  • October 1 – Game 163 vs. Boston – off pitcher Tracy Stallard

    Roger Maris hits historic home run 61

You can learn more about Maris’ historic season online.  The Roger Maris Museum is free and features his Sultan of Swat crowns, autographed balls, jerseys, a replica of his Yankees locker and a video highlighting his career.

To experience baseball in Maris’s hometown of Fargo – where he also started his baseball career – check out the FM RedHawks.

 
 

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Strike gold at JunkFest in Carrington

Vacation gold.  That’s what many travelers to North Dakota tell us they’ve found along their journey.  Visitors write and tell us about the friendly people, the beautiful scenery, the adventures, the great food and the lasting memories.

Vacation memories truly are treasures – and if you’re looking to combine the two, journey to Carrington on September 17 for Autumn JunkFest - an event known for turning memories into treasures.  Visitors find antiques and “junk” refurbished and repurposed for home and garden.  There is also a popular Flea Market.

The Carrington area has great attractions and lodging options for more vacation memories.  Consider a tour of historic Putnam House – a 4,300 square foot home built in 1907 and featuring family history and museum collections.

Dakota Sun Gardens Winery of Carrington offers garden tours and wine tasting.

In nearby Jamestown, visitors can delight in pioneer history at the Frontier Village and the National Buffalo Museum.  The museum cares for a live buffalo herd with three very rare albino bison.

And in nearby Cooperstown, tour the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site.  The reality of the Cold War is best experienced with a trip underground to see mission control.

These attractions recently partnered with North Dakota Tourism in a sweepstakes promoted by Country Living magazine.  The winner, Amy Pater, will also be treated to a stay in a luxury cabin at Lakeview Meadow resort in Jamestown, two nights at the Carrington Inn and Suites and dining extras!

Interesting history – found through treasures, experiences and travel – can make your trip to North Dakota golden.  For more visitor stories, be sure to visit www.RUlegendary.com.

 

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Exploring Western North Dakota

What do you get when you take a beautifully rugged landscape dotted with oil wells and intersected by scoria roads, an old train-tunnel-turned-walking-path, forts and other interesting attractions and some unique shopping?

I introduce you to the western edge of North Dakota.  Beauty, history and fun combined!

Take for instance, Beach – just a mile from the Montana border – where you’ll find Prairie Fire Pottery offering tours and handmade, unique pottery every day.  If the shop isn’t open – just call the phone number on the door!  Now that’s North Dakota hospitality.

A bit north, west of Cartwright, North Dakota, is the Fairview Bridge – a 1,320 foot structure spanning the Yellowstone River.  It leads to the only tunnel in the state – a 1,458 foot long tunnel built mostly by hand in 1912 and 1913.  It’s very cool to walk through but you won’t find me there on Halloween!

A bit north are the fascinating and well-interpreted stops of Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site and Fort Buford State Historic Site near Williston.  Fort Union was the most important trading post on the upper Missouri from 1828-1867.  Fort Buford is where Sitting Bull surrendered in 1881.  Much more area history is found at the Missouri-Yellowstone Interpretive Confluence Center - a place to explore history, genealogy, art and more.

Just east of that western border is Theodore Roosevelt National Park – a wealth of wildlife viewing, natural beauty, horseback riding and hiking trails and undisturbed campgrounds.  Make this area part of your vacation plans!

 
 

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