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FROM THE 'LAND OF LAKES' TO THE FRONTIER OF NORTH DAKOTA

A stop-over in Fargo

all seasons in one day 72 °F

(Friday) After a couple of days to re-charge myself after the busy trip to Seattle I left my gracious hosts in Blaine, a suburb of St. Paul. Heading northwest to an overnight in the sister cities of Moorhead, MN & Fargo, ND about 235 miles away I found my destination without difficulty. Fargo, the state's largest, is a city of just over 100K and Moorhead has a pop. of 40K, both located on the Red River. The accommodations at the Wal-mart parking lot were as usual & convenient to do my grocery shopping. Among Fargo's famous citizens is Roger Maris, New York Yankee's baseball star who broke Babe Ruth's Home Run record in 1961 by hitting 61 homers. Along the way I stopped at a Camping World store to have the MH and generator serviced with oil and filter changes.

(Saturday) As I left Fargo heading west on I-94 I was amazed to view the vast farmlands. Fields of corn, soybeans, wheat, sunflowers were, without exaggeration, to the horizon in all directions. Later, I learned that North Dakota ranks #1 in wheat, barley, flaxseed, dry edible bean, dry edible pea, and honey production. Ninety percent of ND's land mass is devoted to agriculture and employs 25% of its population. The state ranks 8th nationally in agricultural exports. Interestingly, with agriculture, coal mining, oil & gas production the unemployment rate is 4%, the lowest in the US. It is one of the few states that has a budget surplus.

Upon arriving in Bismark, the State Capitol, I settled in at the beautiful Bismark Elks Lodge, which has RV space for traveling members. They claim a membership of 2,300 and are very active with semi-formal dining facilities along with a very nice bar. I met a couple of nice fellows while watching a football game over a brew. It being a holiday weekend, most venues are closed but I called around and found the ND Heritage Center & State Museum to be open on Sunday. There, I spent about 4 hours learning more about the State of North Dakota. The large facility is divided into 4 themes; Geologic Time, Early Peoples, Yesterday & Today, and the Governors Gallery. Each goes into great detail from 600 million years ago in the Geologic, to covering Native American customs and cultures of the 70 Indian tribes in the State, Yesterday and Today covered the settlement of the territory with the wagon trains, then the railroads, the Interstate Highway, and today's advanced Agriculture production methods. The railroads, as I mentioned in a previous blog, advertised heavily in Europe and in the eastern US urging immigrants to come west to stake their claim to free land created by the Homestead Act of 1863. The requirement was a small fee ($10.) for 160 acres of public land, to be lived on, built upon, and for it to be cultivated, for a minimum of 5 years. Thousands of people moved west by train (thus the self-serving strategy of the railroads) and laid their claim in relocating. Since there are very few trees in this prairie land, their homes were built of sod.

In the Early Peoples section the cultures of the Indian people were covered, with displays of their tools, their hunting methods, their nomatic life as they followed the seasons relocating their villages near food sources. It also covered the trading practices that were established between the Natives and the white men. Buffalo hides were one of the most sought-after commodities of the white traders. The Indians were supplying up to 25,000 buffalo hides annually and it was not until Teddy Roosevelt visited North Dakota and realized the near-extinction of these buffalo herds that he pushed Congress to enact laws to protect them. The Indian Wars which occurred between the 1860's & 1890 drove the Native Americans into Reservations in poor land, such as the Bad Lands area of the Dakota territory. ND became the 39th State in 1889.

The Yesterday & Today area covered the progression of agricultural methods from the primitive, ox-driven plows and harvest equipment to today's giant harvesting machines with GPS guidance, drones which fly over fields with instruments measuring all kinds of things to promote higher yields in these vast farm fields. I saw in a video an 86-row planter machine which is as wide as a tractor- trailer is long being used to plant seeds in fields as far as the eye can see. Remember, ND has 39.2 million acres of productive farmland!

The Governors Gallery dealt with the subjects of rural electification in the 1930's, coal mining, and the discovery of oil & natural gas. The latter has contributed greatly to the wealth of the State.

All-in-all, it was time very well spent for I learned much about the Great State of North Dakota and how it like all states, contribute to our wonderful country called the United States of America.

Posted by dixter 07:44 Archived in USA Tagged westward ho!

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