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Jack Dura

The Badlands Babies

Aug 12, 2020


President Theodore Roosevelt’s time in what is now North Dakota is known for the hunting and ranching that helped soothe his soul and form his outlook on conservation. There are many famous episodes: his persistent pursuit of his first bison, chasing boat thieves down the Little Missouri River, and giving his Fourth of July speech in Dickinson.


The U.S. census is conducted every ten years, in every year ending in zero. But demographers are always gathering data on residence and migration. A similar effort was just beginning more than a century ago in Bismarck. A committee was organizing a religious census of North Dakota’s capital city on this date in 1912.

Curator’s Travels

Jul 22, 2020


Herbert Fish had an interesting job. In 1907, he was hired as the first curator for the State Historical Society of North Dakota. He had training in U.S. history and economics, had done archaeological work in Wisconsin, and also taught. His specialty was Native artifacts. He spent every summer from 1907 to 1915 in the field with Native people and settlers from whom he collected items and information about their history. He also became proficient in Native sign language and recorded stories and songs on cylinder records.


Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy looms large in western North Dakota, where the young, future president ranched and hunted in the Medora Badlands in the 1880s. The National Park in his name cements his place in state history. The efforts to establish a Theodore Roosevelt park in North Dakota reaches back to at least 1921, when the state legislature passed a resolution urging Congress to establish the park around the petrified forest in the Badlands north of Medora.


McKenzie County is the “Island Empire” in North Dakota, owing to the rivers that surround the county. Motorists usually have to cross a bridge to enter the county, and residents rejoiced for having a new one dedicated on this date in 1928.

It was a special event. The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge spanned the Little Missouri River south of Watford City. The bridge replaced a family-run ferry, which charged a fee for crossing and was hampered by thin ice in fall and ice jams in spring.


America’s bicentennial year of 1976 brought celebrations across the country. The year was doubly special for Mohall, North Dakota. Residents on this date in 1976 were in the middle of a weeklong celebration of the town’s 75th anniversary, the diamond jubilee. The schedule of events included a musical history in front of 1,000 people at the high school auditorium. Tickets were $2 for adults and $1 for children.


North Dakota’s legislative business is usually done on a tight schedule, no more than 80 days every two years. But sometimes, special sessions are necessary to patch budget shortfalls, to reconsider funding, or to redistrict the Legislature. There have been fifteen special sessions in 130 years.


Every town in North Dakota has a yearly celebration it holds dear. Fargo has its street fair. Arnegard has the Fourth of July. Mountain has the Deuce of August. Valley City has its hill climb. Watford City has a rib fest. Fort Ransom has Sodbuster Days. Robinson has Center Fest. 


North Dakota’s Capitol grounds reflect events of the state’s past. A statue of Sakakawea was dedicated in 1910 to honor the Shoshone woman who helped the Corps of Discovery journey west. A memorial honors military veterans, and there’s also a memorial for peace officers who fell in the line of duty.

Norway Royal Couple

Jun 8, 2020

North Dakota is no stranger to visiting dignitaries. In addition to presidents and first ladies, foreign and royal officials have visited the Peace Garden State over the years. The Deuce of August celebration in Mountain, North Dakota, has drawn Icelandic officials, including the prime minister.