Thingvalla Township, Pembina County, North Dakota

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Thingvalla Township
Thingvalla Township is located in North Dakota
Thingvalla Township
Thingvalla Township
Location within the state of North Dakota
Coordinates: 48°39′58″N 97°51′3″W / 48.66611°N 97.85083°W / 48.66611; -97.85083Coordinates: 48°39′58″N 97°51′3″W / 48.66611°N 97.85083°W / 48.66611; -97.85083
Country United States
State North Dakota
County Pembina
Organized 1882
 • Total 36.05 sq mi (93.4 km2)
 • Land 36.04 sq mi (93.3 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)
Elevation 1,014 ft (309 m)
Population (2000)[1][2]
 • Total 252
 • Density 3.4/sq mi (1.3/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
Area code(s) 701
FIPS code 38-78620[3]
GNIS feature ID 1036722[4]

Thingvalla Township is a township in Pembina County, North Dakota, United States. The 2000 census reported a population of 121, and an estimated population of 103 as of 2009.[5] President Ólafur Grímsson of Iceland visited the area in 1999 to dedicate a monument to poet K. N. Julius at Thingvalla Church,[6] and Prime Minister Geir Haarde visited in 2007 to dedicate a memorial to the church, which burned to the ground in 2003.[7]

The 2nd of August Celebration, commonly known as the "Deuce of August" is an annual event in the township. It commemorates the adoption of a new constitution on August 2, 1874, when Iceland was still a part of Denmark.[8] While it was never an official national holiday in Iceland, it is very popular among Americans of Icelandic descent.[6] The celebration in Thingvalla Township is reportedly the largest Icelandic ethnic event in the United States.[7]


Thingvalla Township was organized in 1882, and, along with Beaulieu and Akra Townships, was known as one of the "Icelandic Townships," due the large population of Icelanders who had settled here.[9] Thingvalla is named after Þingvellir in Iceland, the site of Iceland's first parliament (930–1789), and now home to a historical national park.[10] Thingvalla roughly translates to "parliament meadows."

Thingvalla Township was a "double township," spanning two full survey townships. In 1886, the southern part of the township was organized separately as Gardar Township, named after Gardar Svavarsson, who was reportedly the first Scandinavian to visit Iceland.[9]

Eyford Church[edit]

The Thingvalla Icelandic Lutheran Church was built in Thingvalla Township in the early 1890s. The church and community that surrounded it was also known locally as Eyford.[11][12] Eyford was located roughly halfway between Mountain and Gardar. It was first established in 1887 as a rural post office, and a small Icelandic settlement of around 10 people existed here until the post office closed in 1895.[13] [14] The church was part of the Pembina Hills Evangelical Lutheran and operated for more than 100 years.[10] The church was unique among other Icelandic churches in the area, due to its original furnishings, including the organ, altar statue, and pews, and its similarity to the church in Þingvellir, Iceland.[15]

The church was used more infrequently in its later years, primarily for special occasions.[11] The church was destroyed by a fire June 3, 2003, during a restoration project.[10][16][17] The church was a popular attraction among tourists from Iceland who visited the area. News of the fire even reached as far as Reykjavík, appearing in the Morgunbladid Daily Newspaper.[11] A monument to Icelandic poet K. N. Julius, who is buried there, and the cemetery remain.[17]

Former Prime Minister Geir Haarde of Iceland visited Thingvalla Church during the annual Deuce of August celebration to dedicate a new memorial at the site.[7] The memorial preserves the church's stone foundation and includes a wildflower garden and a replica of the original altar statue.[18]

Notable native[edit]

Icelandic poet Kristjan Niels Julius (1860 – 1936) made his home in Pembina County much of his life, residing in Thingvalla Township. He was born Akureyri, Iceland, April 7, 1860, and emigrated to America in 1878. He originally lived in Winnipeg and later Duluth, Minnesota before coming to Thingvalla Township around 1894. He was well known for his satirical poems in both Iceland and in America. Julius is buried at the Thingvalla Church Cemetery, where there is a monument to him.[6]


  1. ^ U.S. Census Bureau. Census 2000, Summary File 1. "GCT-PH1. Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2000 - County -- Subdivision and Place". American FactFinder. <>. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  2. ^ U.S. Census Bureau. Census 2000. "Census Demographic Profiles, Thingvalla Township" (PDF). CenStats Databases. Retrieved 2009-01-31.[dead link]
  3. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. ^ U.S. Census Bureau (2010). "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions: North Dakota". 2009 Population Estimates. Archived from the original (CSV) on 2010-06-27. Retrieved 2010-06-22.
  6. ^ a b c Miller, Kathy (2003-08-27). "Pembina County Was Home To Renowned Poet K. N. Julius". Walsh County Press. Walsh County, ND. Retrieved 1997-08-02. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  7. ^ a b c "Breakfast Blend Newsline". Grand Forks Herald. 2007-07-31.
  8. ^ Schlossman, Brad (2005-07-28). "Mountain to celebrate Deuce of August". Grand Forks Herald.
  9. ^ a b Johnson, Sveinbjorn (1906). Libby, Orin Grant, ed. The Icelandic Settlement of Pembina County. Collections of the State Historical Society of North Dakota. 1. Bismarck, ND: Tribune, State Printers and Binders. p. 109. OCLC 01773487.
  10. ^ a b c "Thingvalla History". Thingvalla Lutheran Church Memorial <>. Archived from the original on 2011-07-28. Retrieved 2010-07-02. External link in |work= (help)
  11. ^ a b c Vidarsson, Gudmundurweb. "Thingvalla church". Icelandic Churches in the USA and Canada. Retrieved 2010-07-02.
  12. ^ "Eyford Church". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  13. ^ Wick, Douglas A. (1988). North Dakota Place Names. Bismarck, North Dakota: Hedemarken Collectibles. pp. 60–61. ISBN 0-9620968-0-6. OCLC 191277027.
  14. ^ Patera, Alan H.; John S. Gallagher (1982). North Dakota Post Offices, 1850-1982. Burtonsville, Maryland: The Depot. pp. 60–61. OCLC 09763647.
  15. ^ Murphy, Christina (2003-06-10). "Thingvalla Parish Plans Memorial". Grand Forks Herald.
  16. ^ Jacobs, Mike (2003-06-05). "Icelanders Lose Part of Heritage". Grand Forks Herald.
  17. ^ a b Murphy, Christina (2003-06-05). "Historic Church Burns: Original Organ, Altar Statue, Pews Lost to Fire of Unknown Cause". Grand Forks Herald.
  18. ^ Herald Staff Report (2003-08-27). "Thingvalla Clean Up, Planning Begins". Grand Forks Herald.