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Like a quiet afterthought, NORTH DAKOTA has no nationally recognizable landmarks, nor is the state’s history particularly lurid or glamorous; to some, this constitutes much of its understated charm. Grain silos and grassy prairies stretch to the horizon, haystacks resemble oversized loaves of bread, and the wind rakes strong fingers through tall fields of golden wheat and flax. As in South Dakota, the fertile east is more thickly settled than the wilder west, where vast livestock ranges predominate. North Dakota epitomizes all things rural American: it’s friendly, simple and picturesque, with a highly localized speech pattern drawn from neighboring Minnesota, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

From where it crosses the state’s eastern boundary, the Red River of the North, I-94 passes through the central capital of Bismarck and on into the Badlands of the west; its less travelled northern counterpart, US-2, makes for a pleasant east–west alternative. Though the national park bearing his name is the state’s key tourist destination, President Theodore Roosevelt would surely not be pleased about the continuing disfiguration of western North Dakota by strip-mining and oil operations.

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