15 Things You Might Not Know About North Dakota
By Caroline Bologna
1. North Dakota is the happiest state in America, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. The survey uses six sub-indexes to measure happiness: life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities. In addition to ranking first overall, North Dakota also ranked first in the categories of work environment and physical health.
2. In terms of petroleum, North Dakota is the country's second-largest oil-producing state—in 2014, it celebrated the production of 1 million barrels of oil per day. In addition to petroleum (what we usually think of when we think of oil), the state accounts for 87 percent of the nation’s flaxseed, 75 percent of our canola, and 31 percent of our total sunflower oil supply.
3. North Dakota is currently leading the nation in growth of millionaires per capita. In 2013, the state added 1,800 new millionaire households to its population of 294,000 households. Experts attribute this economic growth to the energy boom.
4. Another consequence of the oil boom: North Dakota has one of the highest young-men-to-young-women ratios in the country. In the biggest oil boom counties, for every woman between the ages of 25 and 33, there are 1.6 men.
5. Mr. Bubble Day is an official state holiday in North Dakota. The holiday, which was proclaimed on August 30, 2011, celebrates “the entrepreneurial spirit of Harold Schafer and the Gold Seal Company,” creators of Mr. Bubble bubble bath in North Dakota in 1961.
6. No one knows for sure which Dakota is older. President Benjamin Harrison signed the admission papers on the same day and then shuffled them so that no one would know which state was admitted first. They are usually ranked alphabetically, making North Dakota the 39th state and South Dakota number 40.
7. The North Dakota legislature has rejected two proposals to drop “North” from the state’s name. The first attempt was defeated by the 1947 Legislative Assembly. And in 1989, the legislature rejected another two resolutions attempting to rename the state Dakota.
8. The U.S. Corps of Discovery, better known as the Lewis and Clark Expedition, spent more time in North Dakota than in any other state on their journey.
9. What’s in a nickname? North Dakota has three: the Peace Garden State, the Roughrider State, and the Flickertail State. The first refers to the International Peace Garden, a park that straddles the boundary between North Dakota and Canada. The Roughrider State refers to the U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, which Theodore Roosevelt organized to fight in the Spanish-American War. The "Roughriders" included several North Dakota cowboys—including Roosevelt himself (Teddy had a ranch near the town of Medora, North Dakota). Finally, the Flickertail State pays homage to the Richardson ground squirrels that are native to the state. The animal is known for flicking or jerking its tail while running or entering its burrow.
10. A sizable portion of North Dakota’s population has Scandinavian heritage. Immigrants from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland, who migrated to North Dakota after land became available under the Homestead Act, used to make up the state’s largest ethnic group.
11. In North Dakota you can visit the world’s largest Holstein cow statue and the world’s largest buffalo.
12. The Great Pyramids in Egypt get all the attention, but North Dakota has one of its very own. A large pyramid was built in Nekoma, North Dakota, in the mid 1960s as part of the Safeguard Program to shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles. It’s equipped with a radar system and surrounded by a complex of missile silos. While the complex cost six billion dollars to build, it was shut down after only three days due to safety concerns.
13. North Dakota is home to a real-live Hamburgler. Last year, a Bismarck woman reported that someone had broken into her house. At first, nothing appeared to be stolen, but the house smelled strongly of bacon. Upon closer inspection, she saw that three cans of Bud Light were missing from her fridge.
14. North Dakota is the nation’s largest producer of honey. In 2012, the state produced over 34 million pounds of honey, valued at over $64 million.
15. The town of Garrison holds an annual Dickens Festival. The festival takes place shortly before Christmas every year, in honor of A Christmas Carol. Locals dress up like characters from the novel and watch an amateur theater troupe perform various renditions of the play.