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October 25: A Jewel of a Park

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In 1916, the North Dakota Press Association held its summer gathering at Lake Metigoshe. The newspaper editors were impressed with the area, which most of them had never visited. Newspapers across the state were subsequently filled with reports on the region’s beauty. According to a Bismarck editorial, “If the people of the state, as a whole, realized the scenic wonders that await them in the Turtle Mountain region of North Dakota—if they knew as we know of the beauties of Lake Metigoshe—there would be a pilgrimage up that way every summer that would make the Yellowstone park traffic look like a funeral procession by comparison.”

The name of the lake comes from an Ojibwe phrase meaning “clear lake surrounded by oak trees.” The area was once home to Blackfoot, Hidatsa, and Assiniboine people. On this date in 1912, the president of the North Dakota Game and Fish Board was in Bottineau. W.E. Byerly was on his first visit to Metigoshe to investigate the feasibility of stocking the lake with fish. He was favorably impressed with the area, and expressed confidence that the Fish and Game Board would support stocking the lake.

Twenty-two years later, Lake Metigoshe became a state park. The designation has its roots in the Great Depression. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs led to the construction of a transient work camp just east of the lake in 1934. The camp housed unemployed men left homeless by the depression. The men received food and shelter in exchange for work on conservation projects. Then in 1937, Governor William Langer approved the area’s designation as a state park. Roadwork, landscaping, and other improvements continued through 1938.

Today, the park’s northern pike, walleye, and perch attract fishermen. The Old Oak Trail is popular for hiking. Campers find both modern and primitive facilities. Photographers find no shortage of wildlife and spectacular scenery. From fishing, boating and camping to snowmobiling and cross-country skiing, the park offers recreation all year long. Reviews of the park call it “top notch” and mention everything from the excellent cabins to the miles of hiking trails. North Dakotans can be very proud of this jewel in the state park system.

Dakota Datebook by Carole Butcher


Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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