North Dakota PLACE NAMES

Douglas A. Wick

The current official highway map issued by the North Dakota Highway Department shows approximately five hundred places scattered throughout the state.  North Dakota just recently became an official "urban" state, but it continues to be dominated by the romance of the small community and the rural way of life.  A resident of the New York City area recently asked me if Anamoose still existed.  I told him that it certainly did, and with a population of over three hundred, many people consider it to be a major city.  Needless to say, he found this to be extremely funny, but in North Dakota.  Anamoose IS a major city. 

It is likely that many of these settlements remain unfamiliar, even to longtime residents of North Dakota.  Few people from Grand Forks ever visit Haley, while people from Dickinson never visit Olga, etc.  Yet modern maps barely scratch the surface of North Dakota's place name heritage. 

This book chronicles over three thousand place names of North Dakota, most of which no longer exist.  Many are former names of existing places‑North Dakota surely must rank high among the fifty states in having a multitude of renamed places.  While most North Dakota place names date from the first fifty years of her history, many are of surprisingly recent origin.  Indeed, during the manufacture of this book the new city of Oxbow was born just south of Fargo. 

North Dakota PLACE NAMES was designed as a reference book, with each place name receiving a separate, independent entry.  Many who have reviewed parts of the manuscript, however, have commented that they have gained a new understanding of the history of North Dakota, albeit with a slightly different approach than found in more traditional texts. 

Books of this type can never be complete or completely accurate.  Comments, additions, and corrections are welcomed.  As North Dakota approaches her second century, it is hoped that this book will help preserve not only the high points of her history, but also some of the people and places that are often ignored as "trivia". 

Source:  North Dakota Place Names - front dust jacket

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