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North Dakota

  • North Dakota has welcomed several royal visitors over the years. On this date in 1926, Queen Marie of Romania and her children -- Princess Ileana and Prince Nicholas -- made their way west by train through North Dakota, on a tour of the United States. Queen Marie was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.
  • When the Salk polio vaccine rolled out in North Dakota in 1955, children ages 5 to 9 and pregnant women were given top priority. Parents welcomed the vaccine with open arms. Polio could paralyze and even kill, and young children were the most vulnerable. The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which led the March of Dimes for vaccine research and patient care, provided the vaccine free of charge for first- and second-graders. Salk’s vaccine came in a series of three shots. By the end of 1955, 59 percent of those children in North Dakota were vaccinated. None contracted polio.
  • Too much or too little water are extremes North Dakota knows all too well. Terrible droughts and destructive floods dot the state’s history. On the wet side, there was the historic 1897 Red River flood and the mammoth rains of the 1990s that swelled Devils Lake. On the dry side, nothing tops the Dust Bowl, when temperatures soared into the triple digits, wind blasted away soil, and farmers and ranchers were left in ruins.
  • North Dakotans took many steps to fight the 1918 flu pandemic. Bismarck had a mask mandate for waitresses and other food handlers. Schools and businesses around the state closed – some for months. There was even a vaccine, though it turned out to be useless.
  • Perhaps the disease outbreak in North Dakota’s history was the smallpox epidemic that all but destroyed the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara peoples. In June of 1837, infected passengers aboard a steamboat spread the deadly virus up and down the Missouri River.
  • Heather Steinmann was putting together her father's obituary, and it reminded her that his song "I Love You, North Dakota" had been on the radio in the 80's — but she did not have a copy.
  • “The Black Death,” as the bubonic plague was called, swept Europe in the mid-14th century and killed millions of people. Hundreds of years later, North Dakota also grappled with plague.
  • On this date in 1995, the Bismarck Tribune reported on a most unusual postmaster. Gordon Vaagen, postmaster of Taylor since 1967, was a musical virtuoso. When not running the post office he was repairing and making instruments.
  • Polio vaccinations were in full swing in the summer of 1955 in North Dakota. A team led by Dr. Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburgh developed the vaccine after years of philanthropy through the March of Dimes. Polio was the most dreaded disease of its time, and could paralyze and even kill children. The public welcomed Salk’s vaccine with open arms.
  • One of the nation’s deadliest outbreaks of foodborne illness occurred in North Dakota. Just months apart in the early 1930s, there were two separate food…