On the third day of our road trip across North Dakota, we drove northwest on Hwy 2 from Devil’s Lake to the Geographic Center of North America and then north to the International Peace Gardens on the United States-Canada border. Along the way we stopped at several roadside attractions, including not one, but two. giant turtles.
Geographical Center of North America
The first roadside attraction we came across was the monument marking the geographical center of North America in Rugby, North Dakota. When a 1931 U.S. Geological Survey determined the North America geographical center is in Pierce County, it didn’t take long for the community to erect a monument. The local Lions Club donated materials, and W.B. Paterson and E.B. Paterson built the cairn with the help of local Boy Scouts. The monument was erected by August 1932.
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Prairie Village Museum
The Prairie Village Museum is just a few minutes from the Geographical Center of North America Monument. Most of the twenty historic buildings are original structures that were moved to the museum site. The buildings include churches, a railroad depot, a school, shops, and homes.
As usual, I ended up behind bars in the jail.
The buildings are furnished and filled with really cool historic artifacts and memorabilia, dating mostly from the 1880s through the 1950s.
However, this doll creeped me out.
Besides the historic buildings, six exhibit halls house even more artifacts, like antique cars and farm equipment.
International Peace Garden
Back on the road, we headed north on Hwy 3 to Dunseith, which is just south of the International Peace Garden and the Turtle Mountains. Dunseith is also home to the Wee’l Turtle, touted as the world’s largest turtle sculpture, built of over 2,000 wheels.
The International Peace Garden celebrates the peaceful coexistence of Canada and the United States. Funding is shared equally by North Dakota in the United States and Manitoba in Canada. We spent two-and-a-half hours exploring the formal gardens and driving the loops on both sides of the border. We could have spent more time had it not started to rain in the middle of our walk.
Tip: You will need a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, to re-enter the United States or Canada from the International Peace Garden. A passport isn’t required, although it saves time since they can quickly scan it.
Lake Metigoshe State Park
Leaving the International Peace Garden, we headed west on Hwy 43 to Lake Metigoshe State Park. The park is popular for camping and water sports (canoeing/kayaking and fishing) in the summer and snow sports (cross-country skiing and snowmobiling) in the winter. Besides tent and RV sites, the campground includes family cabins, a yurt, picnic shelters and group facilities.
From Lake Metigoshe we drove south to Bottineau, where we spent the night. As we were driving around town we came across another giant turtle. At over 26 feet tall, Tommy the Turtle is the world’s largest snowmobile-riding turtle.
Disclosures: Our road trip through North Dakota was hosted by North Dakota Tourism. However, any opinions expressed in this article are my own.
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