North Dakota is a hidden gem in the history of the United States. These landmarks tell stories about exploration, war, immigration, and more as they stand proudly as landmarks of our country’s past.
If visiting North Dakota has been your plan for a while and you are also interested in history, then this article will help a bunch. Most of the historical sites of North Dakota either have huge historical significance, are famous landmarks, or both.
There are plenty of things to do in North Dakota and if history is your agenda, we’ve got you covered.
Most Famous Historical Landmarks in North Dakota
Let’s check out these famous historic sites of North Dakota:
1. Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Probably the most famous historical site in North Dakota is the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which lies within the Badlands of Billings County.
Established to honor U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, it is the only national park named after a single person in the United States. The park covers 70,446 acres (or 110.072 sq mi) of land – divided into three sections: the North Unit, the South Unit, and the Elkhorn Ranch Unit.
The Maah Daah Hey Trail passes through all three units of the park. The two main areas of the park have scenic drives, 100 miles of trails for both foot and horses, wildlife viewing opportunities, and backcountry hiking and camping spots.
Approximately 750,000 recreational visitors come to the park each year. It has a wide range of animal habitats and can be easily reached from both the famous cities of Dickinson and Bismarck. This famous national park is known for its teeming wildlife, wildflowers, and fossil sites.
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2. Fort Totten State Historic Site
This is one of the most important landmarks in North Dakota and lies in Totten County is famous for its historical significance throughout the centuries.
It was originally used by the famous Lakota and Hidatsa tribes as a place of refuge during the horrific Indian Wars, but during the 20th century it served as a manual labor camp for prisoners during World War II, and a POW camp once again during the Korean War.
This site is an excellent place for history enthusiasts to visit, offering great opportunities and facilities for both residents and tourists. The fort also has a visitor’s center with displays of artifacts found in the area, as well as information about famous historical battles fought in the area.
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3. State Capitol Building
The famous landmark in North Dakota which is seen as the state’s symbol of independence pride lies in Bismarck, which is a wonderful town to book a trip to and book a hotel in advance.
It was built in 1906 at a cost of (then) $1.7 million and would replace Fort Lincoln State Park as the capital of North Dakota after a devastating fire on December 28, 1930.
This famous historical building has a variety of materials used to give it the distinctive look it has today. The famous state capitol building is located on a hill and overlooks the Missouri River Valley.
The famous structure is 90 feet (27 m) high and features the well-known golden statue of Ceres atop it, representing progress on her crown.
In front of the famous historical building are two war memorials: one sculpture by Giuseppe Moretti which honors North Dakota’s soldiers who fought in World War I, and one by Bruce McLaren which honors North Dakota’s soldiers who fought in World War II.
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4. World’s Largest Buffalo
The “World’s Largest Buffalo Monument” is a sculpture of an American bison (yup, there are NO buffalo in the Americas, none, Google it) located in Jamestown, North Dakota. The statue overlooks Jamestown from Interstate 94, and has earned the city the nickname; “The Buffalo City.”
Officially, “World’s Largest Buffalo” is not considered one of the best landmarks in North Dakota by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration National Scenic Byways Program, because it is in a rest area, which seems quite petty.
Therefore it does not appear on any national map or highway sign. REALLY petty.
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5. The Enchanted Highway
The Enchanted Highway is a collection of the world’s largest scrap metal sculptures constructed at intervals along a 32-mile stretch of two-lane highway in the southwestern part of North Dakota.
It spans the route between the cities of Regent and Wyndmere and is famous for its unique art. This celebrated highway was opened in 1991 and has since become famous because of the many tourists who travel through the region every year to view the sculptures.
Some of the famous sculptures along the highway include a woman with a watering can, an old-fashioned sled, a giant catfish, and a man holding an umbrella that rains down coins!
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6. Fort Buford State Historic Site
Fort Buford is an old United States Army post at the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers in Dakota Territory, North Dakota. It was here where Sitting Bull’s surrender took place in 1881.
Company C, 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment set up camp on June 15, 1866, and was ordered to build a fort. The majority of the fort was made of adobe and cottonwood covered by fences.
It was named after Major General John Buford, who died before the fort was completed. Fort Buford served as a vital military outpost from 1866 until 1886 and serves as a fantastic museum.
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7. Badlands Overlook
Badlands Overlook is known for being the best place to see and experience a famous national attraction and wonderful tourist site, which is known as “Badlands” – one of the most famous areas in all of North Dakota.
One widely known aspect offered by North Dakota’s Badlands Overlook is the famous fossil bed, which became the eternal resting place for countless prehistoric creatures millions of years ago.
The fossil bed is the only known place in the northern United States where fossils from the dinosaur era can be found. The Badlands Overlook, which includes the famous Dakota Sandstone, is also a popular spot for spotting wildlife, that hasn’t yet been fossilized!
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8. Mystical Horizons
Mystical Horizons is a site with an astronomical theme located in Carbury, on Highway 43 near the North Dakota and Manitoba border. The attraction contains instruments to show how astronomical phenomena work, including famous Jupiter’s moons, famous stars, and famous constellations.
The attraction is open year-round and offers to stargaze all year round with the help of a famous planetarium. The North Dakota Council on the Arts originally built Mystical Horizons in 1989, but it was sold to private owners in 2000. Ample parking spots and a fantastic picnic area are available for visitors.
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9. Wells Fargo & Company Stagecoach Stop
The Wells Fargo & Company Stagecoach Stop is located within the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition and Historic Trail. This historical stop was where explorers stayed and rested on October 10, 1804. Some soldiers used the building as a military hospital for U.S. Army soldiers.
This is an iconic part of North Dakota history that everyone needs to see for themselves.
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10. Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center
The Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center is a museum about the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers in Western North Dakota.
It is famous for housing the famous “moccasin telegraph” and other well-known exhibits. The nearby Interpretive Center of Fort Buford offers exhibits on the geography, geology, and history of the areas.
The center is only half a mile east near historic Fort Buford, Williston North Dakota. It provides views of the Missouri River and Yellowstone Rivers as well.
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11. Ezra Millard Homestead
The Ezra Millard Homestead was the home of famous politician Ezra Miller, who was a famous representative for North Dakota during his term in 1929. He passed away at the age of 91 in 1986.
The house is historic and was built in 1903 after Miller moved here from Illinois. The house has three well-preserved main rooms, including a room with a north light where paintings were made. It also has other amenities like old bathrooms and a kitchen.
The home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
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12. Standing Buffalo Monument
The famous Standing Buffalo Monument is one of the most prominent historical monuments located in North Dakota, famous for its imposing depiction of the famed Native American warrior as he looked in 1866.
It is also famous as the tallest monument in North Dakota and is fairly unique because it does not represent famous leaders or famous battles.
Instead, it honors famous Native American warriors that fought and died during the famous Battle of Killdeer Mountain in 1866, which took place right near the famous Fort Totten.
This historic landmark is located in Fort Totten Park within the famous Killdeer Mountain Battlefield.
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13. Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site
Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site was famous for being an important military outpost that was located on famous Nelson Island. The famous site became famous in 1863 when it became the location of the Battle of Portage la Prairie.
It is known for housing a military hospital during the Battle of Fort Abercrombie. The battle is one of the most well-known battles of the Red River Indian War.
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14. Fort Mandan State Historic Site
When you want to explore North Dakota’s state parks, Fort Abraham Lincoln Park is a great starting point. This interactive park offers a replica of the Mandan Indian village and military structures to examine. The park is located north of Bismarck and north of Highway 83 north on the west side of U.S. Route 52.
Fort Lincoln was a famous military outpost in North Dakota, near Mandan, from 1862 to 1877; its replica of the original Fort Mandan stands today as a tourist attraction and is one of the best landmarks in North Dakota representing the history of the Dakota War.
At one point or another, the fort was garrisoned by many famous and infamous American soldiers, perhaps none more infamous than the foolhardy General George Armstrong Custer, who led his famous 7th Cavalry Regiment to doom in what Native Americans call the Battle of Greasy Grass, but most know as the famous Battle of Little Bighorn.
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15. Little Missouri National Grassland
The Little Missouri National Grassland is a historic landmark that was established in 1934 and is made up of 198,000 acres along the famous Little Missouri River. This national grassland is one of the largest areas in North Dakota.
It was established by the U.S. Government to prevent overgrazing and preserve land for future generations, especially for wildlife use.
This north-central part of North Dakota protects a number of parks and other historical sites as well.
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16. Mandan Village Historic Site
Mandan is a Native American tribe of the Great Plains who lived in North Dakota for centuries. They now live primarily on the Fort Berthold Reservation, with some in the US and others in Canada. The Mandan historically lived along the Upper Missouri River and its two tributaries, the Heart and Knife rivers, in present-day North Dakota.
Their language is Siouan, and they established permanent villages that featured large round-earth lodges surrounding a central plaza. Matrilineal families lived in these lodges.
The Mandan were a great trading nation, and food was the primary commodity they exported. The Mandan traded their large corn surpluses for horses, guns, and other trade goods with other tribes.
The Mandan Village Historic Site in north-central North Dakota is part of the famous Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Park. Open year-round, the historical landmark consists of a typical Mandan village and a museum.
It features an authentic recreation of a late 17th-century Mandan village. The visitor center has educational exhibits that focus on Mandan history. The park is located north of Stanton off U.S. Route 83 north approximately six miles north of Fort Abraham Lincoln.
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17. Wolf Mountain School House
The Wolf Mountain School is a famous historical site and one of the best tourist attractions in north-central North Dakota, located north of Hankinson along the Sheyenne River.
The school was founded north of Hankinson by Hopping and Company, a North Dakota real estate company that wanted to attract settlers north of Hankinson and north of Presho.
The Wolf Mountain School is famous for being the first school north of Hankinson north of Presho in Kidder County, North Dakota.
The old building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The historic site features a restored one-room schoolhouse that is furnished with historical items and serves as a museum.
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18. Wolf Mountain Wind Farm
The Wolf Mountain wind farm north of Hankinson north of Kidder County, north-central North Dakota is the largest wind power installation in the state and one of the biggest in North America.
This wind farm north of Mandan, Bismarck, and Jamestown is one of the largest employers in north-central North Dakota. The technology installed north of Bismarck north of Jamestown was developed by Vestas, headquartered in Denmark, which employs nearly 300 people north of Bismarck north of Jamestown.
The wind farm generates enough energy for approximately 50,000 homes and produces an average power output equivalent to the electricity used by 10,000 homes.