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Bismarck, North Dakota is the second largest city in the state after Fargo and is positioned close to the Missouri River. It is the state capital and has a population of around 75,000 people with the wider metro area comprising some 135,00 people.
Brief history of Bismarck
North Dakota has a long history of being populated by various indigenous peoples. Some of those people include the Mandan, Lakota, Hidatsa and Arikara Native American tribes. They all lived in what would become Bismarck at one time or another.
The city itself was founded by settlers in 1872 as Missouri Crossing. The location chosen after the Lois and Clark Expedition found an easy crossing close by a local village. Originally, the settlement was called Edwinton after Edwin Ferry Johnson who worked for the Northern Pacific Railway.
The railway company renamed the town to Bismarck in 1873 after the German chancellor of the time Otto van Bismarck. Their intent was to honor the German leader in order to attract more investment in the railway and more settlers to the area. The discovery of gold in the nearby Black Hills secure the immigrants anyway as thousands of gold hunters flooded the area.
Industries and supporting businesses were quickly established to support the miners and Bismarck grew. It evolved into a freight hub from the Black Hills on the so-called ‘Custer Router’ from the mountains and eventually became the state capital.
Doing business in Bismarck
Modern Bismarck has no specialties and the cities is not known for any one industry. The economic base is wide and varied and includes healthcare, manufacturing, energy, retail and many other business types. As the state capital, Bismarck also has a healthy number of state employees.
The main employers in the area include; Sanford Health, St. Alexius Medical Center, MDU Resources, Aetna, Mid Dakota Clinic, Missouri Slope Lutheran Care Center and the University of Mary.
Highlights of Bismarck
Bismarck is a small city but has a lot of history and culture. It has also been named one of the country’s safest cities to live.
The Missouri River is a big draw for sports, fishermen and those who like to be by the water. There is also a lot of skiing and snowboarding within a short drive of downtown. Other highlights of the city include; Lewis and Clark Riverboat, Bismarck Art and Galleries Association, Buckstop Junction Missouri Valley Fairgrounds, Camp Hancock, Dakota Zoo, The Desert and North Dakota State Capitol.
The North Dakota State Capitol is close to downtown and can be seen for miles. It’s Art Deco style and 19 story height can apparently be seen from 20 miles away.
Bismarck city character
Bismarck is a small city where people are friendly and welcoming. It has none of the pretensions of higher profile cities and even though it is the capital of North Dakota is a relaxed, laid back place.
As a city with four distinct seasons and sometimes harsh winters, spring and summer are the best times to visit unless you’re there for snow sports. Many entertainment venues and outdoor spaces cater for the weather, with the population shifting from one venue to another depending on the conditions.