Three miles east of the Montana border is Golva, one of North Dakota’s youngest towns. Like other communities across the state, Golva has its roots in the railroad.
The site of Golva was considered for a town as early as 1913. When the Northern Pacific Railroad arrived at the site in 1915, a station was established – finished the next year with the help of horses, mules and wagons.
A.L. Martin was the townsite owner and he named Golva after the first few letters of Golden Valley County. A number of services came to Golva, including a post office, which opened on this date in 1916. Some buildings, like a Catholic church, were moved into town from Burkey, North Dakota, just to the southeast. A few elevators came to stand in Golva, and a one-room school was built to teach the area’s children, with a larger, brick school built in 1917.
Businesses in Golva did well until the Great Depression. Hard times hit farmers, ranchers and business owners. Many people moved away from Golva, and other western North Dakota towns like Burkey, Thelen, Sentinel Butte, and Trotters. Some structures still remain, like an elevator at Thelen and a church at Trotters.
Golva has chugged along since then. In 1947, the community incorporated as a village. It became a city in 1967 after the state legislature required all villages and towns to adopt city governments. In the early 1980s, the rail lines to Golva were abandoned. Today, the city has about seventy residents, who recently celebrated their town’s centennial.
Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura
Wick, D.A. (1989). North Dakota place names. Bismarck, ND: Prairie House