Cavalier County Rising
On this date in 1884, Cavalier County began to take shape. Three energetic locals petitioned the governor of Dakota Territory for permission to organize Cavalier County. Sixteen days later, the county officials were decided – positions from sheriff to superintendent of schools.
Cavalier County had been created in 1873 out of western Pembina County in northeastern North Dakota. Fur trader and postmaster Charles Cavilieer was its namesake.
Ten months after organizing Cavalier County, over 5,000 people called it home. Today about 4,000 people reside there. Langdon is the county seat, with 12 cities dotting the county's map.
The county's history is a colorful one. A remnant of North Dakota's role in the Cold War stands north of Nekoma – the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex. This missile defense facility was operational for four months before Congress deactivated the site in 1976. Built for over 6 billion dollars, the old base was bought in 2012 for 500 thousand by a Hutterite colony in southeastern North Dakota. The base's concrete radar pyramid can be seen for miles around in a sea of wind turbines.
Cavalier County is also home to natural curiosities like the Pembina Gorge, North Dakota's deepest and longest unaltered river valley. The gorge is popular with hikers, canoeists and other outdoor enthusiasts.
The county also lies in the Prairie Pothole Region, a veritable paradise for half of North America's migratory waterfowl. Sloughs and wetlands provide key habitat for nesting ducks and geese.
In addition, Cavalier County holds one of North Dakota's four National Natural Landmarks. Rush Lake, a shallow, undisturbed lake, lies west of Wales on private land. It was designated in 1975. The National Natural Landmarks Program recognizes sites that contain outstanding biological and geological resources.
Three ports of entry into Canada are also found in Cavalier County. These are at Maida, Hannah and Sarles.
A quiet place on the prairie, Cavalier County has plenty of sites of interest – for those who know where to look.
Dakota Datebook written by Jack Dura
FPL Energy. (n.d.). Wind: An abundant resource. Langdon, ND: Langdon Wind Energy.
National Park Service. (2012, June 28). Rush lake. Retrieved from:
North Dakota Parks & Recreation. (2015). Pembina gorge state recreation area. Retrieved from: