Fort Ransom is the “Best Kept Secret in North Dakota”. Originally founded in the late 1800’s, with a population today of about 80 people.
Across the Atlantic, hidden deep within the 509-acre Sheyenne State Forest about an hour's drive southwest of Fargo and another hour's hike in, an underground spring spews a gentle stream of mineral-rich water over a muddy cliff about 8 to 10 feet to a creek below.
Fort Ransoms waterfall may not be the Niagara Falls but the state's only recognized natural waterfall -- and the scenic river valley, dense hardwood forests, rolling sand hills and sprawling tall grass prairies surrounding it -- stand in stark contrast to the flat, open terrain of much of eastern North Dakota.
Other Nearby Attractions
Fort Ransom State Historic Site • Sheyenne Valley Arts & Crafts Festival • Ransom Country Historical Museum • Viking Statue Monument • Walking Bridge • Sheyenne National Grassland • Sheyenne State Forest • Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway • Sheyenne Valley Snowmobile Trail • Little Yellowstone, Clausen Springs & Dead Colt Creek parks • Golf Courses • Churches • Rodeo Arena • TJ Walker District
The people in this part of North Dakota believe that they are descended from vikings. To honor this, someone named William Warll from nearby Casselton built one in 1972. Dragging it to the top of this steep hill was a feat worthy of his ancestors. It's a nasty climb just for a person with a camera.
The statue stands about 25 feet tall and is lumpy, made of wire mesh covered with heavy fiber tape and then painted soot-black. It's so black, in fact, that it has the appearance of forever having the sun behind it, even at noon. Its blank face is obscured by an oversized handlebar mustache, its breastplate looks like a training bra. Out of each side of his helmet juts an enormous horn, and the sword or spear that was once held in his outstretched left hand has busted off. From a distance, the combined effect is of a giant Indian, feathers jutting out of his headdress, offering a fistful of cigars.
While the viking has suffered the ravages of time and weather, there are no signs of vandalism -- or even any beer cans -- up here. This proves that if you put something on a hill that only a viking can climb, partying American teens will leave it alone.