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Bismarck, located in south-central North Dakota along the banks of the Missouri River, has been North Dakota's capital city since 1883, first as capital of the Dakota Territory, and then as state capital since 1889. Bismarck however, was not originally the first choice to be the capital of the new state. While Bismarck had served adequately as the territorial capital, it was felt by many that the state's capital city should be moved eastward since then, as now, the majority of North Dakotans lived in the eastern half of the state. To that end, Jamestown was chosen as the new capital, and the state's official records were moved to Jamestown, and stored in the then-new Stutsman County Court House, in preparation for the first session of the North Dakota Legislature. Before the legislators had a chance to gather however, a small group of civic-minded Bismarck residents, disgruntled over the loss of prestige which the impending change meant to their community, rode on horseback the 100 miles to Jamestown in a January blizzard, broke into the court house, stole the state records, and made it back to Bismarck with them, staying just ahead of a pursuing posse. Once the records were back in Bismarck, they were essentially "held hostage", until the legislature agreed to meet in Bismarck. Faced with the "fait accompli", the legislators had no choice but to convene in Bismarck; and, as the Bismarck citizens had hoped for, once there, simply decided it was too much work to change the status quo. In an effort to extract some dignity from the situation however, the legislature refused to formally vote to establish Bismarck as the state capital city. Thus, while Bismarck remains the North Dakota state capital to this day, there is no actual statute, law or constitutional clause placing it there, although because of its convenient central location in the state the city is a perfect site for government to meet. Bismarck's popularity and beauty attracts thousands of people from the east side of the state to the west, north and south. The state capitol builing (the tallest building in the state), and biggest museum in the state, a civic center and opera/ballet house, the largest court room in the state, the largest zoo in the state ("Dakota Zoo") and others are located in Bismarck. Bismarck today is the leading provider in North Dakota of government, health care, and nature care. Bismarck hosts the two tallest buildings in the state, with many parks and recreational areas, three malls and many plazas, a huge downtown area where USA presidents visited, busy traffic and very busy train traffic, and its all located on top of rolling hills along the Missouri River. Bismarck ranks second in tourism intake after Minot. Bismarck also ranks second in largest metro area after Fargo.

Bismarck's economy has sky rocketed twice when gold was discovered in the Black Hills and when Garrison Dam on Lake Sakakawea was being constructed. Minot is a city in northern North Dakota is home of the North Dakota State Fair. Mandan is located a few miles west of Bismarck on the west side of the Missouri River and takes its name from the Mandan Indians that greeted Lewis and Clark. New Salem is the location of the world's largest holstein cow statue; the world's largest statue is of a buffalo is Jamestown. Grand Forks and Devils Lake are located in scenic areas of North Dakota. Williston is located near the confluence of the Missouri River and the Yellowstone River near Montana. Medora in the North Dakota Badlands hosts the Medora Musical every summer and is the gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Fort Yates, located along the Missouri River on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation claims to host the final resting place of Hunkpapa Lakota leader Sitting Bull (Mobridge, South Dakota also claims his gravesite).

North Dakota's most populous city is Fargo, North Dakota. North Dakota's top 12 cities are listed here in order of descending size, they are: Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Forks, Minot, West Fargo, Mandan, Dickinson, Jamestown, Williston, Wahpeton, Devils Lake, and then Valley City.

Luciano Mende

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