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North Dakota Heritage Center

612 E. Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck  North Dakota  58501
United States
(701) 328-2666
Free

Midwest Living Review

Lisa Meyers McClintick
This museum offers a detailed history of North Dakota, from the days of the dinosaurs through the Great Depression.

The State Historical Society of North Dakota (on the grounds of the capitol) is currently closed for a $52 million renovation but will reopen in stages through 2014 to coincide with the state’s 125th anniversary.

The Corridor of Time exhibit tells the story of the late Cretaceous and the early Paleocene periods 60 to 65 million years ago, when the region's climate and environment were a lot like the Florida Everglades. Dinosaurs on display include the skeleton of a giant swimming mosasaur and a mummified duck-billed species. From there, the museum explores the lives of the first native North Dakotans (who lived around 10,000 B.C.), reproduces a house dating 550 to 410 B.C., and describes the Native Americans who populated this area before European settlers arrived in the 1700s. Visitors also discover how the railroad affected a growth boom between 1879 and 1905 and learn about the ways the Great Depression devastated the agricultural community; at one point, more than 70 percent of the state's population required some form of public assistance.

There's also an extensive exhibit dedicated to the birds of North Dakota, and an area for kids that includes toys and games of the past. Little ones can lift a small door to find out what a bison wallow smells like. Grown-ups may be slightly disgusted, but it’s definitely a memorable way to interest children in these great beasts that once roamed the plains.

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