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The Last of Corinth

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Living your entire life in a town so small that it was practically a ghost town might bother some, but not Melvin Wisdahl. Born and raised in Corinth in northwestern North Dakota, Melvin still called the tiny town of 15 people home as of this date 1990.

Melvin was born in Corinth in 1925. His father, from Norway, was a blacksmith and farmer. His mother came from South Dakota. After serving in World War II, Melvin worked on the family farm and as a mail carrier in Corinth and nearby Alamo. Melvin married Morrene Haugen in 1957 and the couple raised two boys in the tiny town.

In 1990 Melvin was interviewed by the Bismarck Tribune to see how he felt about living life in such a tiny place. He didn’t mind at all that the nearest store was 20 miles away, or that there was only one business left in town.

Tiny Corinth was founded in 1916 when the Great Northern Railroad extended into northwestern North Dakota. At one point the town had a population of 108 people, along with two general stores, a hardware store, lumber yard, pool hall, hotel, post office, bank, feed mill, restaurant, barber shop, dance hall, movie theater, and two elevators. Melvin claimed that Corinth had the best dance floor in the country, and it was the place to dance and fight during the moonshine days.

The beginning of the end for Corinth was when the grain elevator burned down in the 1960s. The post office closed in 1969, and the train depot closed in 1970. As the population shrank and people left town, Melvin bought up the leftover property. He got the depot for $50 and moved it next to his late father’s old livery stable.

Melvin stayed true to his word that he loved Corinth, and didn’t leave until 2014 when he was 89 years old. He passed away in Williston in 2019.

The once vibrant community of Corinth is now truly a ghost town. The last business, Farmer’s Flour, has closed, and as of 2017 the population was 3. Many of the old buildings still stand, slowly sinking into the open prairie.

Dakota Datebook by Trista Raezer-Stursa

Sources:

Associated Press, “They Like Living in Tiny Town,” The Bismarck Tribune, October 25, 1990, pg. 14.

Author Unknown, “Melvin Wisdahl, 94” Williston Herald,” July 27, 2019, https://www.willistonherald.com/obituaries/melvin-wisdahl-94/article_f1176264-afc7-11e9-b4b8-5f14c87b9d35.html, retrieved September, 13, 2021.

Golden Jubilee of Alamo, Appam, Corinth, North Dakota, 1916-1996 http://www.digitalhorizonsonline.org/digital/collection/ndsl-books/id/2025, retrieved September, 13, 2021.

Larson, Troy, “Boom and Bust in Corinth, North Dakota,” Ghosts of North Dakota, https://ghostsofnorthdakota.com/2017/06/27/corinth-nd/, retrieved September 13, 2021.

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