Set in the remote prairie of North Dakota, surrounded by wheat fields, cattle pastures, and oil rigs, are the remains of the oldest still-existing mosque constructed in the United States.
In 1929, immigrants from what is now Syria and Lebanon erected the original mosque on the periphery of Ross, a town of 100 people about 60 miles south of the Canadian border. The Muslim community, who sought farmland through the Homestead Acts, held services in the original sub-basement building, a 364-square-foot shelter that offered a coal stove, benches, and prayer rugs.
While there were mosques built in the U.S. as early as the late-1800s, this North Dakota mosque is thought to be the oldest still in existence. The modest building fell into ruin and was removed in 1979. The family of its founders and Christian friends donated money to build a new mosque in its place 2005.
Today, the land here is home to a 92-square-foot structure, with 15-foot-high cinderblock walls on each side of a squared frame crowned with an aluminum dome and four minarets. Inside, visitors find photographs of the founders and a rug arranged eastward toward Mecca. The Moslem Cemetery remains outside as it did 88 years ago and continues to serve as a burial site for practicing families.