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State Hotel Inspections

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In 1909, a new hotel inspection bill passed the North Dakota House and Senate that would hold hotels to a new standard. This required hotels to have sanitary plumbing; to clean carpets and rugs at least once a year; to clean pots, kettles and pans; and to have proper fire escapes. It also required eight-foot bed sheets -- a full foot shorter than required in Oklahoma!

The Bismarck Tribune commented, "Whether fixing the length of bed sheets and the frequency of carpet cleaning is a proper subject for state legislation we are not quite sure, but we've got the new law anyway. Fairly and properly enforced, with reason and common sense, the law ought to do some good, and cannot do much harm. Perhaps after a while we shall get around to regulating other kinds of business, in the interests of health, cleanliness and sanitation."

The State Hotel Inspector, A. M. Anderson of Cass County, commenced in monitoring hotels around the state, although this brought mixed reactions. In April, Anderson had the landlord of a hotel in Oakes arrested because the hotel did not have adequate fire escapes or the require notices for patrons of such escapes, and it also had a lack of fire extinguishers. However, in trial, the landlord was found not guilty. According to the verdict, he had "not conformed with the letter of the law but had provided a better condition than the law required.”

In July, a note in the Emmons County Record accused the hotel Inspector of “dictating” where hotel keepers should obtain their fire escapes. It published a note from the inspector that suggested a company in Fargo over a company in Minnesota, and the paper questioned the inspector’s right to dictate that choice.

On this date, The Ward County Independent noted: "The hotels in some of the smaller towns are providing their rooms with ropes to be used for fire escapes, as ordered by the state hotel inspector."

Of course, no matter what others thought, some reports surely made the people of the state glad for the inspections, such as an article that spoke of a hotel where "each guest is provided with something like seventeen hundred bed fellows... if the guest should find sleep impossible, he can always pass the time in witnessing the prettiest bed bug parade that human eyes ever gazed upon.”

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker

Sources:

Bismarck Daily Tribune, February 19, 1909, p4

The Ward County Independent, September 16, 1909, p2; December 23, 1909, p11

The Oakes Times, April 29, 1909, p5

The Evening TImes (Grand Forks), May 6, 1909, p2

Emmons County Record, July 15, 1909, p2

The Ward County Independent, August 12, 1909, p8

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