Wheatland Depot Fire | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Wheatland Depot Fire

Apr 29, 2021

Wheatland, North Dakota, named for the fields of wheat on bonanza farms, was reported as "a new village ten miles west of Casselton" in 1878, as it found its start by putting in “a railroad side track, and the erection of a couple of buildings."

Like so many other towns across the state, the railroad was tied to Wheatland’s development. It had started off as just another Northern Pacific Railroad Station in 1872. In 1880, The Bismarck Tribune wrote, "Two years ago, there was scarcely a settler between the Dalrymple farm and the James River Valley. Now there are towns such as Casselton and Wheatland, the former place shipping 22,000 bushels of No. 1 hard in a single day last week, and the latter town nearly as much."

 

So, it was newsworthy that on this date in 1904, at 12:30 in the morning, the Northern Pacific Depot at Wheatland caught on fire! It was thought that the fire stemmed from a faulty chimney. The damage was extensive, but no one was hurt. Agent Hull and the night operator were in the office when they were told the roof was on fire. The Fargo Forum stated, "It had gained great headway and the men barely had time to get Mrs. Hull, the agent's wife, out of the building and carry out the piano." They did not save any books or office records, or any personal items. Agent Hull lost his personal "law library" of books, although he did at least have $500 insurance to claim.

 

The fire department was unable to save the depot, but they did prevent the fire from consuming the loading platform, some box cars, and the nearby Monarch Elevator. 

 

On the bright side, the depot had already been scheduled for demolition that spring, with plans to build a new one, though this was a rather forced way to bring it about. For a while following the fire, a caboose was used as a temporary depot. This was not for long, however, as the town rejoiced over their new depot by the fall. 

 

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker

 

Sources:

https://www.ndstudies.gov/gr4/early-settlement-north-dakota/part-1-early-settlement-north-dakota/section-9-railroads

https://www.ndhorizons.com/articles/49/preserving-north-dakota-s-railroad-history-railroads-made-important-impact-across-state.aspx

https://www.ndhorizons.com/articles/49/preserving-north-dakota-s-railroad-history-railroads-made-important-impact-across-state.aspx

http://www.webfamilytree.com/North_Dakota_Place_Names/W/wheatland_(cass_county).htm

The Bismarck Tribune, Dec 17, 1880, p1

The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, April 29, 1904, p1

The Jamestown Weekly Alert, May 5, 1904, p2

The Pioneer Express, September 23, 1904, p7

Jamestown Alert, July 18, 1878, p1

Pioneer Express, June 21, 1889, p3

Wheatland, North Dakota, named for the fields of wheat on bonanza farms, was reported as "a new village ten miles west of Casselton" in 1878, as it found its start by putting in “a railroad side track, and the erection of a couple of buildings."

 

Like so many other towns across the state, the railroad was tied to Wheatland’s development. It had started off as just another Northern Pacific Railroad Station in 1872. In 1880, The Bismarck Tribune wrote, "Two years ago, there was scarcely a settler between the Dalrymple farm and the James River Valley. Now there are towns such as Casselton and Wheatland, the former place shipping 22,000 bushels of No. 1 hard in a single day last week, and the latter town nearly as much."

 

So, it was newsworthy that on this date in 1904, at 12:30 in the morning, the Northern Pacific Depot at Wheatland caught on fire! It was thought that the fire stemmed from a faulty chimney. The damage was extensive, but no one was hurt. Agent Hull and the night operator were in the office when they were told the roof was on fire. The Fargo Forum stated, "It had gained great headway and the men barely had time to get Mrs. Hull, the agent's wife, out of the building and carry out the piano." They did not save any books or office records, or any personal items. Agent Hull lost his personal "law library" of books, although he did at least have $500 insurance to claim.

 

The fire department was unable to save the depot, but they did prevent the fire from consuming the loading platform, some box cars, and the nearby Monarch Elevator. 

 

On the bright side, the depot had already been scheduled for demolition that spring, with plans to build a new one, though this was a rather forced way to bring it about. For a while following the fire, a caboose was used as a temporary depot. This was not for long, however, as the town rejoiced over their new depot by the fall. 

 

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker

 

Tags: Wheatland, farming, railroad, Northern Pacific, fire

 

Sources:

https://www.ndstudies.gov/gr4/early-settlement-north-dakota/part-1-early-settlement-north-dakota/section-9-railroads

https://www.ndhorizons.com/articles/49/preserving-north-dakota-s-railroad-history-railroads-made-important-impact-across-state.aspx

https://www.ndhorizons.com/articles/49/preserving-north-dakota-s-railroad-history-railroads-made-important-impact-across-state.aspx

http://www.webfamilytree.com/North_Dakota_Place_Names/W/wheatland_(cass_county).htm

The Bismarck Tribune, Dec 17, 1880, p1

The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, April 29, 1904, p1

The Jamestown Weekly Alert, May 5, 1904, p2

The Pioneer Express, September 23, 1904, p7

Jamestown Alert, July 18, 1878, p1

Pioneer Express, June 21, 1889, p3