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Dakota Datebook

Dickinson Wool

In 1896, a revision in the North Dakota Century Code allowed that if a town furnished a building to store 100,000 pounds or more of wool for free from June 15 to August 31, the town could hold a wool market, to be advertised by the North Dakota commissioner of agriculture.

This was of great interest to the city of Dickinson, which had shipped 370,000 pounds of wool the year before, with even more wool expected in the current year. So, John W. Currie, chairman of the state board of railroad commissioners, asked Northern Pacific officials to erect a wool warehouse in Dickinson that could hold 300,000 to 500,000 pounds of wool.

 

The Grand Forks Herald would later report: "Work was pushed on Dickinson's big wool warehouse until all the lumber in town was used, and operations are now suspended ‘til more can be got. Big wool market, Dickinson."

 

So, the wool warehouse was established, and by this date in 1904, wool season was well underway. 

 

Many in the area were eager to sell their fleece. The first wool to arrive at the warehouse came from the Hendren ranch about 35 miles west of Dickinson. The 45 sacks averaged about 275 pounds each. C. E. Trask contributed 62 sacks of wool of about 325 pounds each, and Mr. Sandy Stewart delivered 18 sacks of wool from 500 sheep. Montana and South Dakota ranchers also sent in their wool, an estimated 145,000 pounds!

 

It looked to be a good season for the wool warehouse, with an expected price of 20 cents or more per pound, a hike from previous earnings of around 10 cents -- but no buyers came forth! An estimated 500,000 pounds of wool had accumulated in the warehouse, and the wool men grew incensed over what they suspected was a scheme to force down prices.

 

In the end, they consigned their fleece to east coast commission houses, avoiding major cuts to their payday.

 

Dickinson had the wool warehouse and plenty of wool, and the ranchers managed to not get fleeced.

 

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker

 

Sources:

Jamestown Weekly Alert, January 9, 1896, p5

The Dickinson PRess, May 16, 1896, p3

The Dickinson Press, May 26, 1900, p3

The Bismarck Weekly Tribune, July 6, 1900, p3

The Dickinson Press, July 7, 1900, p1

The Bowbells Tribune, July 13, 1900, p8

Bismarck Daily Tribune, June 9, 1900, p2

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