McCumber, North Dakota | Prairie Public Broadcasting

McCumber, North Dakota

Jul 27, 2020


On this date in 1905, the Hope Pioneer drew attention to the town of McCumber, North Dakota. McCumber was one of the new towns springing up along the railroad lines. The newspaper noted that McCumber was destined to be one of the best towns in northern North Dakota. A planned flour mill would assure the town’s success.

The town was named for Porter James McCumber. He was born in Illinois. His family moved to Minnesota where he went to school and became a teacher.


In 1889 he graduated from law school at the University of Michigan. He began practicing law in Wahpeton and served as Richland County’s state’s attorney from 1889 to 1891.


McCumber had a long and successful political career. He was elected to the territorial House of Representatives in 1884 and the territorial Senate in 1886. The staunch Republican was then elected to the United States Senate in 1899 and served until he lost the nomination to former North Dakota governor Lynn Frazier in 1923. He served on many influential committees including the Committee on Indian Affairs and the Finance Committee. He participated in the investigation into the shooting of unarmed prisoners following the Battle of Caloocan in the Philippine-American War. He was a supporter of the League of Nations, prohibition, the Pure Food and Drug Law and the gold standard.


After he left the Senate, McCumber opened a law practice in Washington, D-C. In 1925, Calvin Coolidge appointed him to the International Joint Commission that dealt with the use of boundary waters between the United States and Canada. He served on that commission until his death in 1933.


Many of the railroad towns that the newspaper touted as showing great promise faded off the map. The 2010 census reported that the population of Antler, North Dakota was twenty-seven. The population of Maxbass was eighty-four. While McCumber is no longer a town at all, the name lives on in the McCumber Angus Ranch.


Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher



Infoplease. “Porter James McCumber.”  Accessed 6/27/2020.

Hope Pioneer. “The Future of New Towns.” Hope ND. 7/27/1905. Page 1.

Ward County Independent. “The Senate’s New Chairman of Finance.” Minot ND. 6/22/1922. Page 7.