North Dakota — the State one rarely talks about because no one really spends much time there — just may be a “sleeper” waiting to wake up. The Oil Boom is having the same effect on North Dakota as did the 1848-55 Gold Rush on California. The State suffering from depopulation is suddenly scrambling to accommodate a rapid influx of people. In 2 years the population has risen by 27,000 to 699,628 in 2012. One would hardly call North Dakota a tourist magnate, but all of this could change as they further develop their natural wonders.
North Dakota has always struggled with ways to attract tourists, and this surprises me because they do have a lot to offer. In addition to their rivers, trails and birding activities there is Theodore National Park, Devils Lake and since 1991 The Enchanted Highway
In 1991 Gary Greff, a teacher and native of Regent, North Dakota, quit his job and went back home with the hope of helping to make a positive impact on the future of Regent through his folk art. Using all the scrap metal he could lay his hands on he began creating giant sculptures which depict the land on which they sit along the Enchanted Highway .
Sculptures along the Enchanted highway include “Geese in Flight” which still holds the Guinness record as the LargestScrap Metal Sculpture
His first sculpture was “The Tin Family” representing the farm family.
North Dakota is recognized as a great place to hunt and fish and the deer, fish and pheasants are remarkable.
“Grasshoppers in the Field” I don’t know what inspired this sculpture but perhaps it was the grasshopper plague of 1874.
If you’re traveling along I-94 be sure not to miss Exit 72. The 32 miles south to Regent on the Enchanted Highway is worth the little side trip. In addition to the sculptures, in 2012 Gary completed Phase 1 of the Enchanted Castle in Regent and is now welcoming guests. The Enchanted Castle was formerly Regent’s High School and the classrooms have been turned into mini-suites with medieval touches. While I have not seen this, it promises to be a fun place to spend the night.
See you on the North Dakota Plains.
Photos by Bill Toninato