Become North Dakota’s Valedictorian (P.S. there’s a prize involved)

So you know the basement? The one at the bottom of the steps under this little house where I occasionally venture to load dirty laundry into the washing machine and then forget that I actually need to go back down there to put them in the dryer? Yeah.

Well, in addition to the place where all our socks mysteriously become mis-matched, it is also home to some odd little things that have been left behind by previous relatives who have either lived between these walls, or, when it was empty, convieniently used the scary basement for a nice warm place to store things they couldn’t possibly bear to be without.

Like old records, college portfolios, embarrassing love letters, photos from eighth grade, three malfunctioning vacuums, thingsthat weren’t supposed to break but did, a few thousands spiders and this little gem right here:

Yup. And I am the lucky one who found it in my quest for party games last weekend. Little did I know that this existed under my very roof. Imagine all of the knowledge? Imagine all the fun my house guests and I could have bragging about our “Flickertail” state and screaming out our state bird and flower and song!

So I decided to bring it up from the deep, dark sock graveyard to expose it to the light of day and my guests patiently waiting for something a little less nerdy and a little more like Catch Phrase.

But how could you go wrong? It’s the game that makes learning about North Dakota fun! FUN! It says so right on the box.

So I trudged up the steps and presented my new found treasure to my guests, waiting with wine filled glasses and anticipation.

“Look what I found!” I declared in my best super-excited-and-you-should-be-too voice.


“Yyyaaaayyyaaaa ggguuuuyssss. This is gonna be so much fffuuunnnaaa!”

I unloaded the contents of a game that I soon discovered was probably invented shortly after North Dakota was declared an official state.

You know, just a few years ago, in 1889. It’s in pretty good shape considering…

Anyway, as you can see there is a board, those little pawn things, pictures, about three million trivia cards and… wait for it…wait for it…diplomas! Yes that was plural. Not a diploma. Five. You can earn five in five different categories.




So exciting!

This game has everything!


Except the directions.

Not that I would have read them.

I have no idea how to play this game.


And if my guests had an inkling, they weren’t giving it up.

But that didn’t stop me. We could still test our knowledge of the state we all know and love. We could tally the answers. We could wrack our brains. We could high five and shoot little guns formed out of our hands and then blow the imaginary smoke off the tip. We could finally justify taking that North Dakota History class in college. I…I mean we could be victorious.

Yes, all my board gaming dreams could come true if only the inventors of this deceivingly enticing game didn’t delight in the misfortunate miseducation of others while dancing with one foot in the devil’s living room,  laughing and rubbing their long goatees.

And it turns out making people feel stupid about a place they have lived and loved most of their lives does not a good party make.

No one was dancing on the tables about getting questions like “What modern contrivance of the white man did Sitting Bull accept and wear?” wrong. Or because they had never heard the word contrivance before. That will just bum a person right out.

Anyway here’s what I’m going to do for you on this Friday morning, because I am so depressed about the whole thing. I need to know there is someone out there who has the capability to conquer this game, or at least the skill to Google the shit out of it.

So I have hand picked one question from each of the following six categories:

  • Geography (GEO)
  • People (PLE)
  • Government (GOV)
  • Flora and Fauna (F&F)
  • Transportation and Communication (T&C)
  • Industry and Agriculture (I&A)


Be the first to get every question correct, answering in the comments below, and you win a prize.

The prize? An 8 x 10 framed metallic print of one of the following photos–your choice.





Yeah, my prizes are customizable.

And I might just send you the diplomas as well.

Yay Fridays!

Yay smart people!

Yay hope for humanity!

Yay North Dakota!

Here we go party people–setting the weekend off right.


  • GEO What organization in North Dakota has 415 volunteer units?
  • PLE What happend to the North Dakota Norwegians who decided to march on Washington to protest Norwegian jokes? (Note: My favorite question out of all 5 million)
  • GVO When were fishing seasons first established in North Dakota?
  • F&F What are the three fossil fuels found in North Dakota?
  • T&C What is a “Cow Catcher?”
  • I&A In what year was ranching introduced into the western part of North Dakota?

Go get ’em friends and be the first to be crowned “North Dakota’s Valedictorian.” Now that’s a title to brag about at parties.

I’ll be waiting here with all the answers…

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and Google Valedictorian.

And contrivance.

Happy Trivia.

26 thoughts on “Become North Dakota’s Valedictorian (P.S. there’s a prize involved)

  1. What a fun find! Okay – here it goes!!! I miss NoDak – hopefully some trivia is still left in my brain though!

    1. Public Health Nurses
    2. Offered some Senate Bean Soup for their efforts. ; )
    3. 1896
    4. Oil, Natural Gas, Coal
    5. A device attached to the front of a train. (When I lived in Alaska for a year, they called them Moose Catchers.)
    6. 1878 (I had to Google that I admit – 4th grade History was a long time ago!)

    Now, off for a gin & tonic to celebrate good ND memories. : )

  2. Wow, I thought this was going to be somewhat easy. I only knew one answer off the top of my head, but googled the question and found out I may be wrong. All of my answers are total guesses, now I know how your party guests felt.

    1. The Calvary
    2. No idea, I am guessing he got laughed at.
    3. 1944
    4. Coal, oil and natural gas
    5 A Cow Catcher is metal grill projecting from the front of a train to move objects off the tracks, however at my house a Cow Catcher is a wrestling move.
    6. 1936

    Thanks for the fun trivia!!

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  4. I probably ‘cheated’ in some way, because I may very well have played this game before. I just can’t be sure…

    1. ND Public Health Emergency Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps
    2. The Nat’l Guard was called in. (wasn’t this Zip to Zap?)
    3. 1976 (Paddlefishing)
    4. Lignite coal, oil, and natural gas
    5. The pointy metal thing at the front of a train engine to clear obstacles from the track. We also used to call the squeeze chute a ‘cow-catcher’. And also, a rope makes a nice ‘cow catcher’.
    6. 1878

    If I get all 6, you’re buying me a bowl of Knoephla at Kroll’s tonight. 😉

  5. First, I really, really, really wish you would have brought this game with you this weekend!

    Second…here goes nothin’…

    1. North Dakota Volunteer Fire Departments (theorized through multiple sources providing various hints that all added up to one (hopefully) lucky guess)

    2. “When last heard from, they were more than halfway to Seattle.” (as reported in The Youngstown Vindicator, November 26, 1981). Retrieved from:,3756080&dq=north+dakota+norwegians+march+on+washington&hl=en.

    3. May 16, 1952 (as reported in The Billings County Pioneer, May 29, 1952) Retrieved from:,796096&dq=north+dakota+fishing+season&hl=en.

    4. Coal, crude oil, and natural gas. Retrieved from:

    5. A cow catcher is typically a shallow, V-shaped wedge, designed to deflect objects from the track at a fairly high speed without disrupting the smooth movement of the train. The shape of the cow catcher serves to lift any object on the track and push it to the side, out of the way of the locomotive behind it. The first cow catcher models were constructed of a series of metal bars on a frame, but sheet metal and cast steel models became more popular, as they work more smoothly. Retrieved from:

    6. In the spring of 1884 by William D. and George T. Reynolds. Retrieved from:

    • Wow Sam you have blown me away with your thorough research and absolutely complete answers (with links and proof that the answers exist out there), I regret to inform you that according to the official North Dakota Trivia game, you missed one answer. In the spirit of the game I cannot tell you which one it is, but here’s the thing, we have until Monday. If no one comes up with all the correct answer, you are indeed the winner winner Beef dinner.

      Carry on party people, there’s still time!

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  7. Okay – I am back! Here are my new answers…..

    1. ND Public Health Emergency Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps
    2. Last we heard they were half way to Seattle…
    3. 1896
    4. Oil, Natural Gas, Coal
    5. a device attached to the front of a train
    6. 1878

    I suspect it is questions 3 & 6 that are being troublesome!

  8. 1. Fire Departments
    2. Zip to Zap (Shanna’s sounds about right – Go Shanna!!)
    3. 1952
    4. Coal, Oil, Natural Gas
    5. On the front of trains to “bumper” things from the track
    also call them cow catchers on the front of trucks and pickups – large front bumpers
    6. 1879

  9. Ok….I will give it a try
    1. Fire department
    2. They never made it.
    3. 1952
    4. Coal oil natural gas
    5. Metal grill on the front of a train.
    6. 1884

  10. Pingback: Trivia Winners and North Dakota Lovers « Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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