The Great Northern Route

The landscape along the North Dakota stretch of US-2 consists of immense stretches of hay fields typical of the Great Plains, and only occasional highlights of miniature cattails, goldenrod, and sunflowers. The place-names here are decidedly Anglocentric, with towns named Leeds or York after the hometowns of English investors who, during the 1880s, pumped the fledgling towns full of cash. The general population, however, has always been decidedly Scandinavian.

Midway between Devils Lake and Minot, Rugby (pop. 2,876) is an important agricultural hamlet, known to road wanderers as the town nearest to the geographical center of North America. The exact spot is marked with a two-story stone cairn along the south side of US-2, in front of a café and gift shop (formerly the Conoco station) and across from a Dairy Queen. Nearby is the Prairie Village Museum (summer only, $7), featuring 20 restored buildings and six exhibit halls—a train depot, a schoolhouse, even a reconstruction of a railroad hobo camp—relocated here from around the county, as well as an exhibit on the life of an over-eight-foot-tall local man, Clifford Thompson.