DescriptionDevils Lake was named for its position on the largest natural body of water in North Dakota. According to Sioux legend, the Great Spirit drowned a war party that was returning across the lake from a forbidden night attack. The Sioux avoided the lake thereafter, calling it Minnewaukan Seche, or “Spirit Waters.” White settlers later interpreted this as “Lake of the Evil Spirit,” which was then shortened to the present name.
The lake is a major recreation center comprising two units. Grahams Island State Park, the largest, is off SR 19. The second unit, on Black Tiger Bay, is primarily a boat-launching site. Its position on a major waterfowl migration flyway makes the lake a favorite hunting spot in autumn; fishing is popular all year.
The downtown historic district contains several buildings dating from the period of early settlement, including a Gothic Revival-style church of native fieldstone, an 1885 lodge hall and the 1906 Burlington Northern Railway depot. Of particular interest is the Federal Building at 502 4th St. N.E., a neoclassic limestone structure with marble trim that houses the Lake Region Heritage Center; phone (701) 662-3701.
The Devils Lake region was part of the nationwide Chautauqua movement that began in 1874. These huge educational and recreational gatherings came to an end by 1929, but are remembered from mid-June to mid-September during the art shows, plays, classes and workshops of the North Dakota Chautauqua.
A 40-foot replica of the Minnie H, a steamboat that plied Devils Lake 1883-1908, is next to the tourist information center on US 2.
Visitor InfoDevils Lake Area Chamber of Commerce 208 US 2W DEVILS LAKE, ND 58301. Phone:(701)662-4903 or (800)233-8048
Self-guiding toursBrochures for a walking tour of the downtown historic district are available from the chamber of commerce.