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Dakota Datebook
6:42 am, 8:42 am, 3:50 pm, 5:44 pm, and 7:50 pm CT

Sitting Bull to Phil Jackson, cattle to prairie dogs, knoephla to lefse. North Dakota's legacy includes many strange stories of eccentric towns, war heroes, and various colorful characters. Hear all about them on Dakota Datebook, your daily dose of North Dakota history.

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

You can find all Dakota Datebooks from 2018-today below. Our archive of Datebooks from 2003-2017 can be found here.

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  • A coal miner was murdered near Kenmare in late November of 1912, and it doesn’t appear his death was ever solved. The deceased was Carl Hanson, a 29-year-old born in Norway. A Soo Line section foreman discovered his body near the shore of Des Lacs Lake after following a bloody trail from the tracks
  • North Dakota’s coal mines were dangerous places a century ago, when blasts and equipment accidents could be fatal. The industry had swelled in North Dakota in the 1910s. In 1920, the state had 116 mines, most of them underground. They produced nearly 879,000 tons of coal, worth more than $2.1 million. That would be more than $33 million in today’s dollars.
  • In 1955, the city of Bismarck was in the middle of a scandalous trial. On this date the district attorney accepted a $300 bond, filed through the governor’s office for the removal of Sheriff Myron Thistlethwaite, a necessary step in the process for removing a public office holder.
  • On this date in 1909, the city of Williston celebrated the opening of their new Great Northern Depot. There had initially been some concern that the new depot would be farther from the city that the old depot, but the local commercial club got involved to ensure that it would be built close to the original site.
  • In 1946, Enderlin made history when townspeople elected Agnes Geelan as mayor, making her the first female mayor of an incorporated town in North Dakota.
  • North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding, number two, is about learning and storytelling. It states, "Traditional teaching and the passing on of knowledge and wisdom was done through storytelling, song, ceremony and daily way of life.
  • Happy Thanksgiving! Today’s story is a sampling of how the holiday was observed in North Dakota more than 100 years ago.
  • On this date in 1979, The Bismarck Tribune reported that the tiny town of New Hradec was long past its glory days. The grocery store, bar, and gas station had long ago closed. The school only had 22 students, and the church that once had 250 families now had 90. The population was still about 50, down a bit from its high of 57 in 1940. The outlook for this tiny town was dire, but it was strong in its Czech heritage.
  • Severe winter weather is no big surprise in North Dakota. The state can typically expect 50 days per year with below zero temperatures. The record low, in 1936, was -60 degrees.
  • The city of Robinson, in Kidder County, experienced a news-making surprise in 1925. A public water well had begun to produce gasoline! The water had apparently turned bad for drinking a year earlier, but was still being used off-and-on for other purposes. A motorist who stopped to add water to his radiator, realized it was gasoline when he got it to burn.

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.