50 States in 50 Days: North Dakota, where the unofficial state motto is: “30 degrees below zero keeps out the riffraff.”

Posted by: Elizabeth Horst, Deputy Economic Counselor

Читати українською

Ask an American if he or she has been to North Dakota, and the answer is most likely: No. For many U.S. residents, the mention of North Dakota conjures a bleak image on endless highways, endless fields, an endless winter, where temperatures rival Siberia, or the movie “Fargo” (which actually takes place in neighboring Minnesota.) That image doesn’t bother most North Dakotans, however, where they like to say that the cold winter temperatures keep out the weak and the troublemakers – “the riff raff.”

North Dakota National Guard sandbags for south Bismarck flooding
North Dakota National Guard sandbags for south Bismarck flooding. Photo by Sgt. Jonathan Haugen

When I was a kid, I loved visiting our family in Fargo, North Dakota. It seemed like the coolest place in the world – it was so flat in the Red River Valley, you never had to ride your bike up hill. The sweet corn from the local farm stands was straight from the field and tasted like summer. The winters were indeed cold, but that made for cross country skiing and sledding.  Despite being very flat, Fargo’s only hills are on the banks of the Red River, which has also gained international fame for its epic flooding in 1997, 2009 and 2011.

Fargo Downtown
Fargo Downtown

Going back as an adult, there’s still a lot to enjoy about North Dakota. Cambridge University ranked North Dakota as “the friendliest state in the US” and another poll voted it the safest.  It has a low cost of living, a high quality of life, good roads and education – with the highest graduation rates in the country. It’s just those winters you need to watch out for…

North Dakota also has a lot in common with Ukraine, particularly in agriculture.  Some fun facts about agriculture from the North Dakota tourism Website:

North Dakota is a prime exporter of agricultural products, taking the trophy in production of several crops. North Dakota ranks first in the production of flaxseed, canola, durum wheat, all dry edible beans, all dry edible peas, spring wheat, honey, lentils, sunflowers, barley and oats. About 10 percent of North Dakota’s area, the band of rich soil 40 miles west of the Red River, is often called the “Breadbasket of the World.”

Sunflowers in Traill County, North Dakota
Sunflowers in Traill County, North Dakota

Livestock production is second only to wheat in North Dakota’s agricultural economy. It is most important in western North Dakota where the land is less suited for grain crops. The main livestock are beef, dairy cattle and hogs.

North Dakota farmers and ranchers annually produce enough:

•    Wheat for 13.5 billion loaves of bread.
•    Potatoes for 192 million servings of french fries.
•    Durum for 6.3 billion servings of spaghetti.
•    Corn to produce 418 million gallons of ethanol.
•    Soybeans to make 251 billion crayons.
•    Sunflowers to fill 2.2 billion bags of sunflower seeds.
•    Beef for 113 million hamburgers.
•    Pork for 57 million pork chops.
•    Wool for 513,000 sweaters.
•    Milk for 1 billion glasses.


5 thoughts on “50 States in 50 Days: North Dakota, where the unofficial state motto is: “30 degrees below zero keeps out the riffraff.”

  1. Many North Dakotans are descended from German colonists who immigrated from Ukraine near the Black Sea and the Crimean peninsula.

  2. Now that big oil has taken over the northwestern quarter of the state, things aren’t so great there as they used to be, but that long interstate highway (94) that extends from the Minnesota border at Moorhead to the Montana border in the west offers beautiful views almost any time of year — yes, even in the winter. I recommend June through September for the gorgeous colors of the many crops and the stunning beauty of the badlands in the West which far outstrip the beauty of South Dakota’s Badlands about which I think, “meh.” (Sorry South Dakota, you’ve got a lot of wonderful things, but your Badlands don’t hold a candle to North Dakota’s.) Visit Teddy Roosevelt National Park and if you can, time it for a PowWow in Indian Country. The colors of both will put you in awe.

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