North Dakota

The first Saturday in May marks the date for the running of the Kentucky Derby at the Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. As the most celebrated horse race in America, the race brings thoroughbred horses from across the globe to compete for the “crown of roses.”

Fires in Hatton

May 9, 2018

Like any early town, Hatton, North Dakota, had its share of fires. In 1915 there were two – just three weeks apart. The first involved the gas lighting at a hotel that caused an explosion and fire that destroyed seven businesses and cost more than fifty thousand dollars. Those buildings included the hotel, a harness shop, a café, shoe shop and post office. The fire started in the afternoon and “raged for several hours.”  Nineteen days later, Hatton’s mill burned down, with damages of seventeen thousand dollars.

The Turtle Mountains seem like a slice of Minnesota plopped on North Dakota’s border with Canada. Unlike most of North Dakota, there are woods and wetlands, including one of the state’s larger lakes, Lake Metigoshe, which has a colorful history.


Dakota Territory had a messy few years under Governor Nehemiah Ordway. He was a New Hampshire state legislator who President Hayes appointed as the territorial governor in 1880, after William A. Howard died in office.

Last Territorial AG

Apr 16, 2018


Johnson Nickeus, born in 1850, played a number of roles in the final years of Dakota Territory.  He was an attorney in Jamestown who served two terms on the Territorial Legislative Council, which included the last session at Yankton and the first one at Bismarck.

Old Dakota Counties

Apr 13, 2018


While the shape of North Dakota has been the same since 1889, its puzzle pieces have changed a bit. North Dakota had fifty-three counties at statehood. Some were organized and some still awaited a proper county government, and there was a variety of names and shapes not on the map today, particularly out west.  

New Salem Townsite

Apr 5, 2018


School Hill marked the end of John Christiansen’s journey west. He was a 21-year-old German immigrant riding a freight train with three horses, lumber, machinery and goods belonging to him and other men, who would be arriving later from Wisconsin.



One of northern Dakota Territory’s earliest counties took its name from one of its early politicians. Jefferson Parish Kidder was born in 1815 in Vermont and was that state’s lieutenant governor before he was forty. In 1857, he moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota, latched onto the Republican Party and briefly served in the state House of Representatives.


Several early businesses in Bismarck went up in flames when the city’s first major fire swept the downtown, starting in a saloon late one night in March of 1877. Hotels, saloons, the bakery, the drugstore, the billiard hall—all were wooden buildings lost in the blaze.


Burleigh F. Spalding had his legal and political career in North Dakota, but he spent his youth in northern Vermont. He was born there in 1853 as the son of a Methodist Episcopal minister, one of four children. Spalding left home at age eleven to work on farms for five years to pay for clothes and earn his keep to attend school.