Devils Lake is located in the Northeast area of North Dakota, along US Highway 2. The population is around 7,200 people, according to the 2020 census. The city is named after the nearby body of water called Devils Lake. The first house in Devils Lake was built in 1882. It was surveyed in 1883 and named Creelsburg and later Creel City, after the surveyor, Heber M. Creel. In 1884 it was renamed Devils Lake.
Devils Lake is the largest natural body of water in North Dakota. The lake covers more than 160,000 acres and has hundreds of miles of shoreline. The lake grows large numbers of walleye, northern pike, white bass and yellow perch. In the fall, hundreds of thousands of waterfowl migrate through the area and give the local and visiting hunters outstanding hunting opportunities.
Legend of Devils Lake
“Enchanting Water,” wrote explorer John Charles Fremont in 1839, “is a beautiful sheet of water, the shores being broken into pleasing irregularity by promontories and many islands. As in some other lakes on the plateau, the water was brackish, but there are fish in it, and it is doubtless freshened by the rains and melting snow of the spring. No outlet was found, but at the high water, the lake may discharge into the Shayan (Sheyenne River). This would put it among the sources of the Red River.”
The Indian name Miniwakan, spelled various ways, meant Spirit Water. The early explorers misinterpreted “Enchanted Waters” to mean bad spirit, probably influenced by the Indian legends of drowned warriors and unpredictable waves up to four or five feet. Later data seems to indicate that the Indians were referring to the water’s brackishness which made it not potable, since elements of sulphite, carbonate of soda, lime, magnesium and iron, much like the ocean were in the water. In the early days this was bottled as medicinal potions. However, by that time, the lake had come to be known as Devils Lake.