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David Thompson, Mapmaker of North Dakota monument.

David Thompson Monument

Field review by the editors.

Verendyre, North Dakota

This granite ball, five feet in diameter, is crossed by perfunctory latitude and longitude lines. It's a monument to David Thompson, who "passed near here in 1797 and 1798" while making the first map of North Dakota. Thompson's accomplishment is difficult to appreciate, as North Dakota is essentially a rectangle of arbitrary geography.

The monument was placed on this lonely hill in 1925, overlooking the tiny town of Verendyre, a gift from the Great Northern Railroad, whose tracks ran nearby. [RA: Thanks to tipster Randal O'Toole for straightening us out on its origins.]

David Thompson's monument has never drawn much of a crowd. Verendyre was abandoned decades ago, and the last time that we stopped by the monument's only visitors were a herd of cows. Its inscription was so worn that it was barely legible. A few more North Dakota winters (or itchy cows) and it will be gone, and the meaning behind this big, granite Hellraiser head will be lost to the rare traveler who stumbles upon it.

Also, if David Thompson deserves a monument, how come he isn't in the North Dakota Hall of Fame?

David Thompson Monument

49th St. N., Verendyre, ND
From US 2, take ND 14 south for 14 miles. Look on the right for the little green sign for Karlsruhe. Make a right, drive 8.5 miles on an unpaved road until it ends in a "T". The paved road to the left is tempting, but take the right, unpaved road. It bends sharply to the left after a mile. (Another unpaved road continues straight, but you don't want that). Follow for another five miles until you see a "Hill" sign. When you reach the top of the hill, the dirt track to the Monument will be to your left. (If you end up down in the valley, you've gone too far.) The dirt track is littered with rocks and gopher holes; take it slow.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Plug Man holds Lightning BoltPlug Man holds Lightning Bolt, Velva, ND - 10 mi.
Scandinavian Heritage ParkScandinavian Heritage Park, Minot, ND - 26 mi.
Rusty the Giant TurtleRusty the Giant Turtle, Turtle Lake, ND - 42 mi.
In the region:
Geographic Center of North Dakota, McClusky, ND - 46 mi.

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