Powers Farm at the World’s Fairs | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Powers Farm at the World’s Fairs

Aug 23, 2019

In 1893, North Dakota joined the many other states that sent items to be displayed at the World's Fair in Chicago. There was needlework, maps, model tepees, Red River ox carts, and samples of wildlife preserved with taxidermy. Colonel Lounsberry, founder of the Bismarck Tribune, reported from Chicago on the many items, saying:

"In the Pembina room are some fine paintings done by Blanche Booker, only 12 years of age, and scattered through the building are many others. Among the paintings is one by a celebrated French artist for which the national government paid $5000 and loaned it to this exhibition upon the request of our senators. It represents a harvest scene on the Powers farm in Richland County."

The painting showed 45 horse plows breaking stubble at the farm. It went on to show at locations around the country. Several years later, in 1898, when the Trans-Mississippi Exposition was held at Omaha, Nebraska, the Post Office printed a series of postage stamps to commemorate the exhibition.  Included in that series was a limited-edition $2 stamp using that same painting.

It surfaced again in 1901, appearing as part of a North Dakota exhibit at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. Lieutenant Governor Bartlett, who oversaw this exhibit, was quoted as saying: "I have the greatest trouble to convince eastern farmers that that is a scene on one man's farm. They have an idea that all those men, horses and plows were gathered together just for the picture or think that the farmer got so behind in his work that the neighbors, to help him out, got up a plowing bee. It really is, though, an actual scene on one man's farm."

Today, citizens of North Dakota could regard that well-traveled exhibit with pride, knowing it captured an intriguing slice of the state’s unique history.

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker


Bismarck weekly Tribune, June 2, 1893, p7

The Washburn Leader, January 28, 1898, p3

Bismarck Daily Tribune, August 19, 1901, p1