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North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department

Tornado Damage at Fort Ransom

Fort Ransom

Fort Ransom State Park was established in November of 1976, but did not open until 1979. The park’s name was derived from the original Fort Ransom Military Post that was established in 1867 and named after Major General Thomas E.G. Ransom. The fort provided protection for overland travel, but was dismantled in 1872.

This area was settled by Norwegian farmers and has a rich history deeply rooted in Scandinavian heritage. The early immigrant homesteads of Nils Olson and Andrew Sunne are located within the park’s borders. Several buildings of Andrew Sunne’s 1884 homestead still stand today. These buildings provide the backdrop for the park’s annual Sodbuster Days, sponsored by the Fort Ransom Sodbusters Association. Sodbuster Days provide demonstrations of horse-drawn fieldwork, antique machinery displays, blacksmithing and farm cooking.

In August of 1999, a tornado sideswiped this area, causing much damage. The piece of tin lodged in the tree was once the top of the chimney on the blacksmith shop located in the Sunne farm. The tornado damaged the horse corrals and several picnic tables, in addition to destroying the cupola on the barn and countless trees. Fortunately, no one was camping in this area. Please leave the tin in the tree as a reminder of nature’s raw power.

Fort Ransom State Park is located 34 miles south of Valley City in the heavily wooded and scenic Sheyenne Valley.