North Dakota: Milk Mustaches, Enchanted Geese, and Nearly 9,000 Angels

North Dakota is the newest member of the Esurance family. Find out what makes this state so big and bad (in a good way).

Esurance now offers car insurance in North Dakota, bringing our total number of states to 42. We’re psyched because this place is pretty darn cool. Yet a lot of folks don’t know much about North Dakota beyond the movie Fargo.

Read on to find out what makes this state so special.

It turned Teddy Roosevelt’s life around

Though President Roosevelt is now famous for his toughness and brawn, he was scrawny and sickly growing up. In 1883, his first trip to North Dakota (then Dakota Territory) to hunt bison changed all that. Enamored with the landscape, he became a rancher and spent much of the next 4 years there. By the time he returned home for good, he was a suntanned, barrel-chested icon of vitality.

Roosevelt’s lifelong interest in conservation began in North Dakota when he saw the herds of bison diminishing before his eyes. He was also struck by the eerie, dramatically shaped Badlands near the Little Missouri River, which he said looked the way Edgar Allan Poe sounds. Today, those Badlands are part of the 70,467-acre Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

It’s an enchanting place to drive

North Dakota’s highways tend to offer views of wide-open spaces and not much else. But, for 32 miles along Highway 21 (aka the Enchanted Highway), drivers are greeted by giant grasshoppers, massive pheasants, and even Teddy Roosevelt himself, all crafted from scrap metal by local sculptor Gary Greff.

Worried that his hometown of Regent would become extinct like many other small farm communities, he started the project in 1989 as a way to boost tourism in the area. The most famous of his creations, Geese in Flight, holds the Guinness World Record for world’s largest scrap-metal sculpture.

It could set a record for setting records

Greff’s goose sculpture is just one example of North Dakota’s penchant for going big.

  • The state is home to 2 more record-breaking roadside structures: Salem Sue, the world’s largest Holstein cow at 38 feet high, and the Jamestown Buffalo which stands 26 feet high.
  • Every year, the world’s largest french-fry feed is held during Potato Bowl USA in Grand Forks.
  • North Dakota also holds the world record for the largest number of people making snow angels at once (8,962).
  • Past world records include largest pancake feed, largest flipped hamburger, and longest ice-cream sundae. (Hey, if you have the space …)

Sacagawea called it home

The story of explorers Lewis and Clark can’t be told without including Sacagawea, a local Shoshone woman who became their interpreter. Joining their Corps of Discovery expedition in 1804, she traveled with them for the next 2 years, accompanying them all the way to the Pacific Ocean and back. Her presence as the only woman in the group meant that the tribes they encountered knew them to be friendly (war parties never included women). She helped procure the horses necessary for the journey, and her knowledge of the landscape proved invaluable as well. Oh, and she did it all while carrying her newborn son on her back.

Folks say it’s peaceful, but also rough

North Dakota is officially called the Peace Garden State in honor of the International Peace Garden that stretches across the borders of North Dakota and Manitoba. But it has 2 other nicknames: the Roughrider State (for the famed First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry that fought under Teddy Roosevelt in the Spanish-American War) and the Flickertail State (for its ubiquitous, tail-twitching Richardson ground squirrels).

Other fun North Dakota facts

  • North Dakota produces half of the sunflowers grown in America
  • The official state beverage is milk
  • When North Dakota and South Dakota became states on the same day in 1889, the papers were deliberately shuffled so no one knew which state was admitted first
  • The town of Rugby is said to be the geographical center of North America (though it may actually be closer to the towns of Orrin and Balta)
  • North Dakota is home to 63 National Wildlife Refuges, the most of any state

So, whether you love nature, history, or just a nice, frosty dairy drink, North Dakota is worth getting to know.

And North Dakotans, you certainly don’t need us to tell you what’s great about your state. But if you need reliable car insurance, we’re here to help 24/7.

One Response to “North Dakota: Milk Mustaches, Enchanted Geese, and Nearly 9,000 Angels”

  1. Jane
    March 12, 2014 #

    I had no idea! Great post Ms. Hall.

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