Dr. Sheppard’s Farm Train | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Dr. Sheppard’s Farm Train

Jun 7, 2021

One fact we can probably all agree upon is that North Dakota enjoys a historical and essential partnership with agriculture. A small but vibrant example is the reception received by the North Dakota Agriculture College’s travelling farm train in June of 1910. 

It was called the “Better Farming Train,” and when it pulled into the Davenport, North Dakota railroad station, it was met by throngs of interested citizens. The Forum newspaper wrote that the day’s crowd was large by 8 am, and some six or seven hundred people visited over the course of the day, almost every one a person living on a farm.

The coaches of the farm train were designed to display, instruct, and feature the latest scientific agricultural exhibits, providing tips for the onlookers. After the initial hour of the gathering, the attendees adjourned to a hall where they met a Mr. Willard, who represented the Northern Pacific Railroad. The railroad partnered with NDAC by supplying the train. The agricultural college afforded two of its star professors to teach, advise and mingle with the citizens. 

Professor Lawrence Waldron offered ag advice as well as his expertise on the type of trees needed on North Dakota prairies.

Professor John Shepperd discussed clover and corn production.  Both professors were early hires at the NDAC and remain honored with buildings named for them: Shepperd Arena and Waldron Hall. 

Farmers Institutes provided outreach to rural families in a number of states through their agricultural colleges and NDAC was one of those participants. With the start of the Extension Division in 1914, and in partnership with the state’s Agricultural Experiment Station, the NDAC staff helped run and teach the popular institutes.

The cooperation between the railroad and the campus led to many successful collaborations that allowed the campus to reach one of its goals: “to make the state its campus.”

Dakota Datebook written by Steve Stark