Bismarck is the capital of the U.S. state of North Dakota, the county seat of Burleigh County, and the second most populous city in North Dakota after Fargo. Bismarck was founded in 1872. Bismarck has been North Dakota’s capital since it gained statehood in 1889.

Bismarck sits on the Missouri Plateau directly across the Missouri River from Mandan. The two cities make up the core urban area of the Bismarck-Mandan Metropolitan Statistical Area

The North Dakota State Capitol, the tallest building in the state, towers over the central part of Bismarck. The state government employs many people within the city. As a hub of manufacturing, retail trade, and health care, Bismarck is the economic center of a large portion of south-central North Dakota.

Bismarck History

The city that would become present day Bismarck was founded in 1872 under the name “Edwinton.” This original name was in honor of Edwin M. Johnson, a chief engineer for the Northern Pacific Railway company. In 1873, the city’s name was changed to “Bismarck” in honor of the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck. The new name was introduced by the Northern Pacific Railway company in an effort to attract German immigrants to settle in the city. However, the discovery of gold in the nearby Black Hills in 1874 was the first real impetus for growth. In 1883, Bismarck became the capital of the Dakota Territory and, in 1889, of the state of North Dakota.

Located in the Great Plains between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Lakes, Bismarck possesses a climate similar to both locations. The climate is characterized by long, cold winters with average snowfall. Summers are warm, and frequently hot and humid. Thunderstorms occur in spring and summer, but in general, the Bismarck climate is quite dry.

Bismarck Recreation

Bismarck has a large park system and an extensive network of exercise trails. The Bismarck Parks and Recreation District, established in 1927, operates many parks, swimming pools, and several golf courses within the city. Sertoma Park is one of the best known parks in Bismarck, spanning more than three miles (5 km) along the banks of the Missouri River. Along with four miles (6 km) of biking trails, Sertoma Park is also home to the Dakota Zoo and Super Slide Amusement Park. In total, the Parks and Recreation District operates approximately 2,300 acres (9 km²) of public park land.

Bismarck is also home to five golf courses: four 18-hole courses (Apple Creek Country Club, Hawktree Golf Club, Riverwood Golf Course, and Tom O’Leary Golf Course) and one 9-hole course (Pebble Creek Golf Course).

Hunting and fishing are also common activities in the area. Hunting seasons for deer, pheasant, and waterfowl are popular. Meanwhile, fishing is a year-round sport with the Missouri River running through the Bismarck-Mandan community. There are public docks on the Missouri. The north location is at the “Port of Bismarck,” which is also home to the Lewis and Clark Riverboat. The next location is the Fox Island landing, which is located about half a mile southwest of Riverwood Golf Course. Further south is the Bismarck Parks and Recreation-operated General Sibley Park, which includes a boat ramp and picnic area. With the recent popularity of poker, the Bis-Man Poker Club has become another popular pastime.

The Bismarck area is also home to several dammed lakes, including McDowell Dam Lake, located six miles (10 km) east of the city, two dammed lakes located west of Mandan on I-94, and the man-made Lake Sakakawea, located 70 miles (110 km) north of Bismarck, which was formed by the Garrison Dam project.


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