- The oldest house in North Dakota, the Sigdal House, is 230 years old.
- It was originally constructed in the Vatnas area of Sigdal, Norway, and shipped to Minot, ND in the 20th century.
- Sigdal House ties back to North Dakota’s Scandinavian roots, as many immigrants from countries like Norway settled in North Dakota.
North Dakota may be a sparsely populated state, but the area’s history and natural wonders are worth a visit. The state’s documented history dates back to the first Europeans who arrived in the area. French fur traders established relationships with the area’s indigenous people, who lived on the land for thousands of years.
In time, immigrants settled in North Dakota, many of whom traveled from Scandinavian countries such as Norway and Finland. The oldest house in North Dakota is connected to its Scandinavian history and is well over 200 years old!
History of North Dakota
North Dakota’s history contains a little more mystery than some states, mostly because it was so sparsely settled by Europeans for many years. Like the rest of the country, Native Americans began living in the area thousands of years ago. The major tribes in the area were the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Sioux, and Chippewa.
Europeans did not arrive in the area until the year 1738 when a French fur trapper and trader named Pierre La Vérendrye explored the area and visited the Mandan tribes, writes North Dakota Studies (.gov). La Vérendrye described the Mandans as friendly and helpful in his writings and marveled at their village of earth lodges so close together his men nearly got lost.
North Dakota was a part of the land purchased by the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. For many years, North Dakota was a part of the Minnesota and Nebraska territories, writes the History Channel. It was also sparsely populated for much of the 19th century — likely due to its remote location and shorter growing season.
In 1861 the United States organized this land into the Dakota Territory. An intense rivalry between North and South Dakota existed as to which territory would gain statehood first. In the end, President Benjamin Harrison chose the bills to sign at random and did not reveal which order he signed them. At any rate, North Dakota gained statehood in 1889.
State officials were eager to attract immigrants and other settlers to North Dakota. The railroad significantly opened up the area for new businesses and settlements. The Northern Pacific Railroad first reached North Dakota by 1871, according to Writin for the Brand.
By 1920 there were 5,400 miles of track. Towns sprang up in North Dakota as the railroad expanded and new businesses emerged. Scandinavians and Germans from Russia formed the largest group of immigrants to settle in the area.
Modern-day North Dakota
To this day, North Dakota remains one of the least populated states in the country. However, it has experienced rapid growth in the 21st century thanks to the oil boom in the Bakken shale.
Today North Dakota leads the nation in the production of a number of agricultural products such as spring wheat, durum wheat, and honey. Above all, North Dakota is known for its beautiful landscapes, diverse wildlife, and Native American culture. The Badlands in Theodore Roosevelt National Park are a can’t-miss destination.
Origin of the Oldest House in North Dakota
Identifying the oldest home in North Dakota is a little tricky. Technically the oldest home in the state is Sigdal House. However, this house was not originally built in North Dakota.
Sigdal House is a 230-year-old home that was constructed in the Vatnas area of Sigdal, Norway in the late 18th century, according to the Scandinavian Heritage Association. Eventually, the Scandinavian Heritage Association from Thorvald Watnas purchased and restored Sigdal House in a project led by Arne Svarstad and crew.
In the 20th century, Sigdal House was carefully packed up and shipped to Minot, ND. Prior to shipping, every log was carefully labeled for reassembly. The crew even saved the home’s old moss and the rocks that lined the fireplace. Once the home arrived in Minot, Svarstad and crew carefully reassembled the building.
Sigdal House History
Though Sigdal House was not originally built in North Dakota, it holds historical importance for the northern portion of the United States. Scandinavians made up a large number of immigrants to settle in North Dakota in the state’s early days.
While speaking with KX News, an American-born woman named Jeanne Larsen recalled visiting Sigdal Hosue in Minot, and the home’s special ties with her Scandinavian family. “My great-grandmother was born in 1860 in Sigdal, Norway, and actually she was born in this cabin!” Jeanne told the outlet.
The majority of Jeanne’s ancestors immigrated to the northwestern corner of Minnesota in the mid-1800s. Twenty years ago, Jeanne took a trip to Sigdal to visit her second cousins. She even saw the land where Sigdal House originally stood.
Oldest House Originally Built in North Dakota
The oldest residential house originally built in North Dakota is the Dease-Martineau House located in Pembina County, ND. Pembina is the oldest town in North Dakota. The Dease-Martineau House was constructed in 1868 and served as both a residence and a trading post, likely for the area’s fur trading industry.
According to the North Dakota Historical Society, the Dease-Martineau House is a two-story gable-roofed log house with an attached, subordinate one-story rear wing. It is made of dovetailed hewn elm and white oak logs partially covered with lap siding.
Remnants of the Red River Oxcart Trail also exist on the site. The Martineau family preserved the property for many generations. Today the National Register of Historic Places recognizes the Dease-Martineau House on its list.
Where is the Sigdal House Located on a Map?
The Sigdal House is located in the Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot, ND in Ward County. The address is 1020 S Broadway, Minot, ND 58701. Minot is the fourth most populous city in the state and is located a little under two hours away from the capital city of Bismarck.
Visit Sigdal House
Today the Sigdal House remains in the Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot, ND. Visitors are free to tour the park which contains remembrances and replicas from each of the five Scandinavian and Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.
The Scandinavian Heritage Park grounds are open all year long, though park buildings are only accessible when volunteers are present. SHA recommends beginning your trip at the Edward T. and Leona B. Larson Visitors Center, which contains a gift shop. Access to the park is free and group tours can be made by appointment.
Other Points of Interest in Minot, ND
Minot, MD is known for being home to the Minot Air Force Base, but there are many more interesting things to discover. Don’t miss the Scandinavian Heritage Park and all the other attractions Minot has to offer visitors and locals alike.
Roosevelt Park Zoo
The Roosevelt Park Zoo currently houses 68 different species of animals, including rare creatures such as the Amur Leopard. The zoo offers a number of exciting exhibits, as well as a Discovery Barn and Children’s Zoo. It also hosts exciting events and educational opportunities.
Dakota Territory Air Museum
The Dakota Territory Air Museum opened its doors in 1986 to honor the men, women, and machines that have impacted the rich history of aviation.
The museum hosts a number of impressive aircraft and even includes an outdoor display. The Spitten Kitten exhibit showcases three aircraft types flown by the 5th Fighter Interceptor Squadron while at Minot Air Force Base. This museum is an experience aviation enthusiasts won’t want to miss!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/chamey
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