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North Dakota Colleges

North Dakota Colleges


North Dakota is the most rural of all the United States, with more then ninety percent of its land utilized for agricultural purposes.  It is a leading producer of wheat, barley and other grains along with both cattle and sheep for the livestock pens.  Most of the state was part of the Louisiana Purchase; the balance was ceded by the British in 1818 in one of the treaties following the war of 1812. The United States took possession of the only settlement in the area in 1823.  Real settlement and development of the area did not occur until the arrival of the railroads in the 1879s and 1880s.


The eastern and central portions of the state are part of the Great Prairie.  To the east, an area called the lowlands draws decent annual precipitation and has extremely fertile soil.  The central area is classic prairie and when the state was settled, became the site of an extremely productive wheat producing area, some on ranches of several thousand acres.  To the west of this wheat belt is an arid area punctuated by dry washes and irregular plateaus, known as the Badlands.


The industry that has come to North Dakota largely involves food processing, using the state’s agricultural products as raw material.  There has been some recent manufacturing growth there, drawn by the labor pool and cheap land.


North Dakota does contain twenty state and national parks, many of which are breeding grounds for waterfowl and serve as stopovers on migration routes.  There are lakes as well and the state draws its share of hunters and fishermen in search of deer, pheasant, pike, bass and trout.  The Badlands have become a tourist attraction drawn by the unusual geographic formations and hydroelectric development on the Missouri and Red Rivers and their tributaries have created a number of reservoirs that are used for recreational purposes as well.


In 1951 oil was discovered in the northwestern portion of the state.  Those oilfields have become North Dakota’s producer of its principal mineral export.  Bismarck is the state’s capitol and its largest city at 50,000.  It is on the banks of the Missouri and was founded as a transit point for the region’s wheat and cattle products.  It also served to protect workers when the railroads were under construction in the area and was a jumping off point for miners during the Black Hills gold rush of 1874.


Fargo is the largest city at 75,000 inhabitants, sitting on the banks of the Red River opposite Moorhead Minnesota.  It is also a trade center for wheat and beef products and was founded when the railroad came through in 1875 – and thoughtfully named after a financial baron of the time, William Fargo of the Wells-Fargo Company.  The neighboring town of West Fargo is populated with stockyards and meat packing plants.


Bismarck is a regional telecommunications center and perhaps that will bode well for digital IT development in the area.  North Dakota State University is located in Fargo and the University of North Dakota is found in the city of Grand Forks.  The opportunities to be found in this tenaciously agrarian state are probably in the food processing businesses, although Fargo has become a regional financial center.  But if you are looking for wide open spaces, you need look no further than North Dakota.

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