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One Hundred Years of Arthur

The 1980s were years of celebration for many towns across North Dakota. It was 100 years since the coming of the railroad that gave rise to the towns, and now they were celebrating their centennials. The Cass County town of Arthur was one of them.

The town began in 1881 with the coming of the Northern Pacific Railroad. The town was platted in 1882 and named for President Arthur, who had taken office after the assassination of President Garfield. The first building in Arthur was a general store, followed by another store, a lumberyard, a confectionary and a hotel. The railroad depot sprang up as “a crude building” west of the tracks. Other businesses and buildings came as the need arrived, everything from a schoolhouse to a blacksmith.

Arthur has never had more than 450 people. On this date in 1982, the residents of the area began a two-day celebration of the town’s centennial. The special weekend involved a barbecue dinner, a centennial quilt, a firemen competition, a craft show, old time photos, a Norwegian band, balloon rides, a parade, threshing demonstrations, and a dance at Herb Johnson's barn. Events to close out the celebration included an air show, a beard contest and a demolition derby. According to the Cass County Reporter, weather was windy and threatened rain, but didn't stop the fun. More than eleven hundred people enjoyed the Sunday dinner, and guests came to town from seventeen states.

Governor Allen Olson wrote to congratulate Arthur residents on the anniversary and wished them a happy 100th birthday.

Only a handful of towns in North Dakota have yet to celebrate their centennial. Some are even going on a 150 years!

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura


Source: Cass County Reporter, 1982, June 24. Page A-7.

Arthur Centennial Book Committee. (1982). One hundred years with Arthur: Arthur centennial. N.p.
Wick, D.A. (1989). North Dakota place names. Bismarck, ND: Prairie House

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