Sometimes the best places to go on a vacation aren’t halfway across the world. Sometimes, they are in your own backyard or your own state. For me, this trip wasn’t so much of a vacation as it was a class trip where I earned points. But even at the time, it was a much needed getaway from the city. Cities aren’t really my thing.
The plan for the trip was to head west from Fargo and end up in Napoleon, North Dakota. There were a variety of historical sites that we planned on seeing in order to set up a historical driving tour for future travelers to the area.
A lot of what we saw was very interesting, and most of it was stuff I didn’t expect to see on the prairies of North Dakota. Except the cows. I always expect to see cows dotting the landscape in North Dakota.
We started the trip meeting at the Streeter Buffalo Supper, an annual event that brings North Dakotan’s from all over the state to come enjoy a delicious meal with friends and family.
Once you purchase your ticket to eat for the evening you will be placed in a queue along the side of the wall where bleachers are. Your ticket will have a number on it and the announcer calls people by your number group. Be ready to jump at it though, even if he doesn’t call your number group because it didn’t really seem to matter. Two people here, three people there, anyone that wants to eat come forward!
Another spot that you definitely want to hit is the Logan County Museum. There you will see all kinds of historical stuff. That sentence sounds absolutely terrible coming from someone studying history in school.
I think that, by far, this flag was one of the coolest things in the museum. If you count the stars, there is only 45 of them. The last time America had a flag with only 45 stars was in 1896. That means this beautiful gem is well over 100 years old.
Other very cool things at the museum were the Soo Line Caboose and the one room schoolhouse. Though, I have to admit the caboose was a wee bit more interesting than the school house.
Be sure to climb the stairs and take a peek inside the red caboose. I was very surprised to see that it resembled something that, nowadays, we might see on Tiny House Hunters. There was a kitchen, sitting area, bunks, closet, and even a closet with a toilet that opened straight onto the tracks.
After your visit to the Historical Society/Museum, the next closest highlight to the town of Napoleon is Dinosaurs of the Prairie. This is where you can find a line of dinosaurs old-timey threshing machines lined up all the way to the top of the hill.
If you look close enough, they really do look like dinosaurs. I assure you, the only thing you will find in the field is cows, really cool machines that have so much history in them, and the occasional cow patty. I also learned that the giant cows are way more afraid of you that you are of them. It’s not like I have a fear of cows or anything, I just have never been around them and was not sure how they would react.
But I digress.
It is okay for you to climb or roll under the fence. The hike to the top of the mountain small hill is well worth it. Once you get to the top, you can pretty much see forever in every direction.
From head over to the St Anthony Cemetary to see the iron crosses marking the gravesites. I’ve never been one for cemeteries, but it is definitely beautiful in its own way.
Look out for the dates on the crosses and the photos near the top showing the people buried below.
Next, you will want to head south to the Prairie Bells Grotto. There you will find a bell tower with varrying sizes of bells. Some of the ropes are too short for you to reach, but give a hard tug on some of the longer ropes. The more of the ropes you pull, the more beautiful sound the tower makes.
Fund fact, the ringing bells can be heard for over twelve miles away on the prairie.
Turn right when leaving Prairie Bells and you will see an old house sitting up on the hill. It looks like it has been abandoned for years. Definitely do not go inside, but take a peek in the windows. If you step inside the porch area, you can still see the color the house was painted before it faded. A beautiful bright blue.
Other things to do in the area include picnics on hilltops, Shell Butte would make an awesome location for a picnic. Only in the summer, though. Even hiking to the top was a lot of fun. I did get a little scared, looking down the side of the mountain. It’s steep and I dislike heights.
Another thing that I personally would enjoy, is just driving around. See what you can see.
Take photos of the never ending beautiful landscape that makes North Dakota so legendary.
Hang out with the locals in the only bar in town.
Make new friends.
But more importantly, get out there and see what there is to see. You won’t be disappointed, of that, I promise.