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Stark County, North Dakota facts for kids

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Stark County
Stark County Courthouse in Dickinson
Stark County Courthouse in Dickinson
Map of North Dakota highlighting Stark County
Location within the U.S. state of North Dakota
Map of the United States highlighting North Dakota
North Dakota's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  North Dakota
Founded February 10, 1879 (created)
May 25, 1883 (organized)
Named for George Stark
Seat Dickinson
Largest city Dickinson
 • Total 1,340 sq mi (3,500 km2)
 • Land 1,335 sq mi (3,460 km2)
 • Water 5.5 sq mi (14 km2)  0.4%
 • Total 33,646
 • Density 25.11/sq mi (9.69/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (Mountain)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
Congressional district At-large

Stark County is a county in the U.S. state of North Dakota. As of the 2020 United States Census, the population was 33,646. Its county seat is Dickinson.

Stark County is part of the Dickinson, ND Micropolitan Statistical Area.


Stark County was created February 10, 1879, as a county within Dakota Territory from parts of Howard County and Williams County. The county organized on May 25, 1883, and became a county in the state of North Dakota on November 2, 1889.


In 1891, the North Dakota Legislature enacted legislation annexing Dunn County, Hettinger County, and parts of Billings, Bowman, McKenzie, Wallace, and Williams Counties into Stark. However, the act was vetoed by Governor Eli C. D. Shortridge.

Additional annexation legislation was enacted in 1895, affecting the boundaries of Stark, Billings, and Mercer Counties, subject to approval by the counties' voters. The annexation went into effect November 3, 1896, but Wilson L. Richards, a local cattle rancher, sued to overturn the annexation because he and other landowners in the area were now subject to taxation by Stark County. The case went to the North Dakota Supreme Court, which ruled the law unconstitutional on May 18, 1899. The annexation remained in effect, however, due to a replacement law approved by the legislature March 9, 1899, in anticipation of the court's decision.


This second annexation law was overturned by the North Dakota Supreme Court in 1901 because the annexation was not referred to the voters of the affected counties as required by the North Dakota Constitution. This lawsuit involved a landowner, Henry Schaffner, whose property in Williams County was added to neighboring Mercer County by the 1899 law. Schaffner objected when the Mercer County sheriff seized and attempted to sell Schaffner's property to collect taxes the county claimed Schaffner owned. The court ruled that the seizure was illegal, since the 1895 ruling meant Schaffner's property was outside of Mercer County's jurisdiction.

The Legislature passed a third annexation law in 1903, this time submitting it to the voters Stark County and the unorganized counties of Dunn and Hettinger for approval. The annexation was approved by 502 votes in Stark County and 65 votes in Hettinger County, but it failed by 1 vote in Dunn County. Stark County claimed the annexation vote valid, since the legislation required a majority of the aggregate votes cast. However, the North Dakota Constitution required a majority vote in each affected county subject to annexation, so the state of North Dakota sued Stark County on the grounds that the enabling legislation was unconstitutional and that the "no" vote in Dunn County meant the annexation failed. The North Dakota Supreme Court ruled the 1903 law unconstitutional in 1905. Stark County received a minor boundary change in 1908 when Dunn County was formally organized.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,340 square miles (3,500 km2), of which 1,335 square miles (3,460 km2) is land and 5.5 square miles (14 km2) (0.4%) is water.

Major highways

  • I-94.svg Interstate 94
  • US 85.svg U.S. Highway 85
  • North Dakota 8.svg North Dakota Highway 8
  • North Dakota 22.svg North Dakota Highway 22

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 2,304
1900 7,621 230.8%
1910 12,504 64.1%
1920 13,542 8.3%
1930 15,340 13.3%
1940 15,414 0.5%
1950 16,137 4.7%
1960 18,451 14.3%
1970 19,613 6.3%
1980 23,697 20.8%
1990 22,832 −3.7%
2000 22,636 −0.9%
2010 24,199 6.9%
2020 33,646 39.0%
US Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2020

2010 census

As of the 2010 census, there were 24,199 people, 10,085 households, and 6,167 families in the county. The population density was 18.1 inhabitants per square mile (7.0/km2). There were 10,735 housing units at an average density of 8.0 per square mile (3.1/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 95.2% white, 1.2% Asian, 1.0% American Indian, 0.8% black or African American, 0.5% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.9% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 59.0% were German, 14.7% were Norwegian, 7.7% were Russian, 7.7% were Irish, 7.3% were Czech, 5.4% were English, and 3.5% were American.

Of the 10,085 households, 27.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.8% were married couples living together, 7.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 38.8% were non-families, and 30.9% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.90. The median age was 38.3 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $49,536 and the median income for a family was $62,560. Males had a median income of $42,338 versus $26,451 for females. The per capita income for the county was $25,282. About 5.9% of families and 10.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.9% of those under age 18 and 13.1% of those age 65 or over.



Unincorporated communities

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