Dr. Sheppard’s Farm Train
In our diverse region of the country, one fact we can probably all agree upon is that North Dakota enjoys a historical and essential partnership with agriculture. A small but vibrant example is the reception of the North Dakota Agriculture College’s unique Farm Train in the month of June in 1910.
When the Better Farming Train pulled into the Davenport, North Dakota railroad station, it was met by throngs of interested North Dakotans. The Forum newspaper wrote that the day’s crowd was large at 8 am and grew to some six or seven hundred people packing themselves in throughout the day. The farm train featured cars displaying, instructing, and featuring the latest scientific information on agriculture.
After the initial hour of the gathering, the attendees adjourned to a hall where they met a Mr. Willard, representing the Northern Pacific Railroad. The railroad partnered with the NDAC by providing the train. The agricultural college afforded two of its star professor to teach, advise and mingle with the rural citizens.
Professor Lawrence Waldron offered ag advice as well as his expertise on the type of trees needed on North Dakota prairies. Professor John Shepperd discussed clover and corn production. Both professors were early hires at NDAC and remain honored to this day with the buildings named for them: Shepperd Arena and Waldron Hall.
In a number of states, Farmers Institutes provided outreach to rural families through agricultural colleges. NDAC was one of those participants. With the start of the Extension Division at NDAC in 1914, and in partnership with the state’s Agricultural Experiment Station, NDAC staff helped run and teach the popular Farmer’s Institutes.
The cooperation between the NP Railroad and the campus led to many successful collaborations that allowed the campus to reach one of its goals: “to make the state its campus.”
Dakota Datebook by Steve Stark
Forum & Daily Republican and Beacon Across the Prairie, William C. Hunter