Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #227 – Home Sweet Home

Fargo, North Dakota.

North Dakota.

This week’s challenge is hosted by Tina of Travels and Trifles. She writes, “If a foreigner were to spend a week or a month traveling your home country with you, where would you take them? What sights would you tell them to be sure to see? Where have you found some of your own favorite images? What is it you truly love about where you live, or places you’ve seen in your home country?” You can read her entire challenge post here.

While I have many images from 32 of the states I’ve visited in our great country, I will imagine my foreign friends only have a week to visit, and I plan to give them a grand tour of my home state, North Dakota. Of course, in that week, their visit can’t comprise the entire range of seasons, but I will take some liberties in that I can use some artistic license to show images of the state in more than one season. For my opening image, I feature a late summer night in my home city of Fargo where I’ve lived and worked in the area for over 40 years.

Peacegarden 2021-6
The International Peace Garden

North Dakota is bordered on the west by Montana, on the south by South Dakota, and on the east by Minnesota. The state’s northern boundary is an International border as our neighbor to the north is Canada. In fact, at over 5,500 miles (8850 km), the U.S./Canadian border is the longest international border in the world. North Dakota alone has 18 international border crossings, all in the Canadian province of Manitoba.

Probably the most celebrated border crossing in our state is at Dunseith, where there is a joint Manitoba/North Dakota project that celebrates the friendship between our two countries in the form of the International Peace Garden.

TRNP North Unit-26
Bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The 26th president of the United States lived and ranched for a time in western North Dakota. Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, in his own words noted, “I have always said I would not have been President had it not been for my experience in North Dakota.”

The state’s only national park was named in his honor and over half a million visitors spend time in at least one of the three park units each year. The image above features a family of bison that live in the park. Somehow I get the impression that the large male bison is looking at me as yet another picture-taking tourist. He’s sticking his tongue out at me in disgust, I imagine.

Painted Canyon
Painted Canyon

The badlands of North Dakota extend south across our border with South Dakota. This panoramic image doesn’t do justice to the majesty and natural beauty of this part of my home state. Visitors need only stop at the Painted Canyon Rest Area and visitor center at exit 32 on Interstate 94 to capture views like this, spend some time hiking on a nearby trail or two, and generally enjoy our state’s wonderful scenic views.

Fisherman's Dream
Sculpture on the Enchanted Highway.

Forty miles east of the Painted Canyon Rest Area on I-94 at exit 72, don’t miss the opportunity to drive the Enchanted Highway. The image above is a scrap metal design and is only one of many sculptures built along the road by Gary Greff, a longtime resident of Regent, North Dakota, some 32 miles (51 km) down the Enchanted Highway from the Interstate. The image, unfortunately, doesn’t have a size reference. That blue and white “sunken” boat on the left is probably 10 feet (3 m) in height.

Abandoned house at Sims ND
An abandoned house at Sims, North Dakota.

Christmas in North Dakota is not without its own ghost stories. This abandoned house is one of the few remnants of Sims, North Dakota. At one time, the town of Sims in Morton County was home to some 1,200 residents. As the story goes, there is only one resident in the town, the Gray Lady of Sims who haunts the parsonage next door to the oldest Luthern church in western North Dakota. The house in the image above is not the parsonage, but it is probably the most photographed building in Sims judging by a web search of Sims ND images. Of course, I had to include my own interpretation of the farmhouse.

Custer House-11
A general’s saddle.

At Abraham Lincoln State Park near Mandan, North Dakota, docents in period costumes commemorate a famous U.S. Army General who saddled his mount and rode into history along with the men of the U.S. Seventh Calvary. On May 17, 1876, the commanding General of Fort Abraham Lincoln, George Armstrong Custer, and his regiment headed west into Montana Territory. On June 25, 1876, he and his entire regiment were killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn by a coalition of Native American tribes. General Custer and his wife Libbie lived on the fort during his command starting in 1873. The battle was written down in many history books as Custer’s Last Stand.

Trestle Bridge
Highline Bridge

Valley City, North Dakota is known as the City of Bridges with several pedestrian, vehicle, and railroad bridges crossing the winding Sheyenne River within and around the city in the valley. One of the largest railroad bridges in the country is the Highline bridge completed in 1908 to carry freight and passengers across the wide expanse of the Sheyenne River valley. The 3860-foot (1,180m), span gently lifts trains to the higher terrain on the western edge of Valley City. At its highest point, the bridge rises 162 feet (49 m) above the valley floor. This image is a panoramic view of the bridge captured by my drone on the other side of the Sheyenne River.

Prairie Dinosaurs-1
Prairie Dinosaurs.

North Dakota is primarily an agricultural state and at the edge of a field, a North Dakota farmer paid homage to the history of the steam thresher. His collection of steam thrashers winds uphill from the roadside to a nearby hilltop. That farmer has passed on, but his family honors his memory by keeping the collection open to visitors. Dinosaurs of the Prairie is but a few minutes’ drive from the community of Napoleon, North Dakota, and a little more than an hour’s drive from the state capitol at Bismarck. This image was captured with my drone on an early October day.

Mystical Horizons-5
Mystical Horizons

North Dakota has its own version of a modern Stonehenge. Near the Canadian border at Bottineau, Mystical Horizons features an astronomical calendar that consists of pillars that replicate the functions of Stonehenge in England. These three slotted pillars are lined up with slots in the curved wall on the left in the image. On the appropriate days of the year, the sun is visible through the combined slots as sunset approaches.

Sunset on the Red River-1
Sunset on the Red River of the North.

North Dakota is known for its harsh but beautiful winters. Truth is, since I retired, I’ve spent most of my recent winters in warmer climates. We’ve usually been home for Christmas and in 2015, after a beautiful day in Fargo, I made a visit to the river that borders our state with Minnesota on the east. Click on any of the images above for a view in HD, or visit the gallery in my Flickr album here.

Thanks again to Tina for giving us the opportunity to share photographs of the places we call home. Next week, Patti hosts the first challenge in December as we begin the 12th month of challenges in 2022. If you’d like to join in the fun each week, check here for details.

John Steiner


  1. What a lovely state, John. I loved the chance to see a bit of it. I’d like to spend time there at some point. Although I’ve seen South Dakota quite a lot, I’ve only been in ND as a child and don’t really remember it at all.

  2. A beautiful post of your N.D.! I enjoyed reading the history of the state and viewing your beautiful photos. The Painted Canyon is fascinating. The sculptures are so interesting!

  3. Thank you John.
    I have taken my family from Ireland and Africa to all of your pictures, they loved every moment of their time in North Dakota.

  4. I’m sorry to say I’ve never visited ND. Your. photos make a very good case for me to visit there.😀. I love your images here–the “dinosaurs,” the bison, the abandoned house, and your closing image in the snow. Wonderful captures, John.

  5. A beautiful ode to your home state John. Must admit I’ve not visited – as you say not close to any of the other places I’ve visited so I’ve missed it thus far. Your post beckons us all to see what we’ve been missing. The last photo alone calls my name! Terrific post.

  6. HI John, I think what I loved most about this post, is many foreigners may not know ND is often, one state, that Americans bypass for no other reason than it is out of the way. My inlaws were there a few months ago and the local city hall has a certificate that you can get saying you have been to all 50 states, because ND is usually the last. (I think it was Minot). Funny

    But there is so much to see. I loved all the history you shared with us and love hearing (and seeing) how inviting the state can be. The bison does look like he giving you “the eye” or the tongue. I was glad you gave us a reference for the sculpture park, and Highland Bridge is quite picturesque. I found the steam thresher trail interesting, and the last photo was my favorite. A winter greeting card.

  7. A beautiful state I knew nothing about before – thank you for enlightening me! So worth a visit, and you have made good PR for it. Love all the history and the bison – and the last one, well, I think you know I love snow!

  8. I’ve always wanted to visit the Badlands and I love your shot if that landscape, but my favourites here are the abandoned farmhouse and the line of Prairie Dinosaurs 🙂 I can’t hear the word Fargo without thinking of the Coen Brothers’ film !

    • When I was working, I called vendors to purchase equipment from around the country. So many times when I gave our shipping address, I had to explain, “Yes, I’ve seen the movie.” 🙂

  9. I love everything about this post. Thank you for showing us your beautiful state and your beautiful photography. Like everyone else, I have never made ND a destination during our travels, but I see that I should make the effort.

    • North Dakota is a big state with lots of prairie, but two major Interstates and several U.S. Highways make travel across the state relatively easy… that is, in the winter, maybe a bit more difficult. >grin<
      Thanks for the compliment on the post!

  10. This is a beautiful display of your homeland, John. North Dakota has a rich history. It takes a rugged soul to live there in the winter months – especially in the days before central heating and air conditioning! I enjoyed getting to know it just a bit better in this post.

    • We have lived in the Fargo area full time from 1978 to 2012 when we headed south for the winter.
      Those harsh winters were rough on this California boy. Fortunately I was tempered by a decade in southern Minnesota before we came to Fargo. 🙂

      • Being from Indiana, those California winters were heaven to this girl! Prescott was rough for me last year. Hopefully I’ll be more adjusted this year. Our condo is rented this winter. We may not rent it next year. Neither of us love the cold!

      • I understand. In the previous decade, we’d have been in Arizona by now. These days, the weather is in the 20s for the highs. I can’t wait to head south in a couple of weeks.

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