North Dakota has the highest percentage of residents of Norwegian ancestry of any state in the U.S. Today, many towns and cities in the state still celebrate their Norwegian heritage with festivals, parades, and other events.
Stark County, located in the southwestern part of North Dakota, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. Before European settlers arrived, the land was inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Dakota, Arikara, and Mandan.

The arrival of European settlers in the 1800s brought about significant changes to the region. German and Scandinavian immigrants established farms and ranches, drawn to the fertile soil and vast expanses of grassland. The town of Dickinson, now the county seat of Stark County, was founded in 1881 and quickly grew as a trade and supply center for the surrounding region.

In the early 20th century, the discovery of oil in North Dakota had a transformative impact on Stark County. The county experienced an influx of prospectors and oil workers, leading to a boom in population and economic activity. Oil wells sprang up across the county, bringing both prosperity and challenges to the area.

Over the years, Stark County has weathered economic ups and downs. Agricultural practices have evolved, with advancements in technology and changes in market demand. The oil industry continues to play a significant role in the county's economy, with oil production and related industries providing employment and revenue.

Today, Stark County is a vibrant community that combines its agricultural heritage with modern industries. Its diverse landscape, including the beautiful Badlands to the west, makes it a tourist destination and an attractive place to live. As the county continues to grow and adapt to changing times, it honors its past while embracing the opportunities of the future.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Stark County, North Dakota.

  • 1832: The Lewis and Clark Expedition passes through the area that would later become Stark County.
  • 1872: The first settlers arrive in the county.
  • 1879: Stark County is officially organized and named after General John Stark.
  • 1881: The first post office is established in Dickinson, the county seat.
  • 1901: The Northern Pacific Railway reaches Dickinson, boosting economic growth.
  • 1914: The discovery of oil in the county leads to an oil boom and rapid development.
  • 1936: Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park is established near Medora.
  • 1953: The construction of the Dickinson Dam is completed, providing flood control and recreation opportunities.
  • 1978: The Dakota Dinosaur Museum opens in Dickinson, showcasing fossil collections.
  • 1991: The Enchanted Highway, a collection of large scrap metal sculptures, is completed.