Dakota Datebook

6:42 am, 8:42 am, 3:50 pm*, 5:44 pm, and 7:50 pm* CT
  • Hosted by Prairie Public

Sitting Bull to Phil Jackson, cattle to prairie dogs, knoefla to lefse. Dakota Datebook radio features air weekdays at 6:42 am, 8:42 am, 3:50 pm*, 5:44 pm, and 7:50 pm* CT on Prairie Public. Find the 2003-2017 archives here.

*These airtimes during Main Street may vary.

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Dakota Datebook is generously funded by the North Dakota Humanities Council, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of the North Dakota Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

A Humble Beginning

12 hours ago

On this date in 1914 the Washburn Leader explained that the town of Washburn had a rather inauspicious beginning. In the summer of 1882, the steamer Rosebud was in Bismarck loading for a trip to Fort Benton. Waiting to be placed on board was a square white box addressed for delivery in Washburn. The clerk initially refused to receive the box and allow it to be loaded. The reason was simple: no one knew where Washburn was. Neither the clerk nor anyone else on the docks had ever heard of it. The crew finally agreed to accept the cargo. But it rode to Fort Benton and back – and seemed to have found a home on the Rosebud.

Among the many attributes of Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy was his ability to compose insightful and penetrating speeches that, by accounts of his audiences, were impressive in their commanding delivery. His voice was said to modulate in pitches low to high, and his natural charisma was always mesmerizing.

Few places in North Dakota capture the Old West like the town of Marmarth, a former railroad boomtown in southwestern North Dakota, about a half hour from Bowman. In some ways it has the same charm of Medora, another village on the Little Missouri River in the Badlands. But Marmarth isn’t a tourist town.

One of Marmarth’s early buildings still stands: the Mystic Theatre, which opened on this date in 1914, 7 years after the town was founded. 

Theodore Roosevelt’s only North Dakota visit while president came in April of 1903. His railroad excursion was a two-day event, packed east-to-west across the state with several stops. 

Burglar Alarm System

Apr 18, 2019

The first “proximity alarm” was patented in 1853 by a Boston inventor named Augustus Russell Pope. The alarm was connected to doors and windows, and would go off if anyone attempted to break in. Pope sold his invention to Edwin Holmes who established the first modern alarm company, the Holmes Electric Protection Company.

On this date in 1914 the Devils Lake World ran a political cartoon on page one. It showed Uncle Sam prepared to undertake a big project. He carried picks and shovels. Under one arm was a document labeled “Alaska Railroad Law.” Carrying railroad ties and rails as well as a locomotive, Uncle Sam was clearly ready to go to work. Facing him was a figure representing the unemployed saying, “Say, Uncle, do you need some help on that railroad?” Decades before FDR’s New Deal, the political cartoon suggested putting the unemployed to work on an important infrastructure project.

Yesterday we brought you part one of the story of Carl Ben Eielson, the first man to fly over the top of the world. We left him and his partner, George Wilkins, after they crash-landed in 1927 on an iceberg during a blizzard. Wilkins, the navigator, estimated they were 65 miles from safety, and floating farther away each moment.

Today marks the anniversary of an extraordinary event in the life of Hatton native, Carl Ben Eielson. In 1927, an Australian adventurer, George Wilkins, had been trying for several years to realize a dream of being the first to fly over the Arctic from Alaska to Norway. After trying several pilots who crashed several planes, people were shaking their heads that he was still trying.

Coal Briquettes

Apr 12, 2019

A briquette is a compressed block of combustible material such as charcoal or sawdust. The term is French, related to the word “brick.” Briquettes are a way to use “small coal,” the finely broken coal bits produced during mining. These small bits were difficult both to ship and to burn. Forming it into briquettes solved the problem. But initially, the process was not very efficient. It could be done by using wet clay as a binder, but then it didn’t burn very well.

It was early April of 1903 when North Dakota welcomed the second sitting U.S. president to visit the state. The first, Rutherford B. Hayes, famously toured the giant Dalrymple farm, the first of the famous Bonanza Farms of the Red River Valley – the largest wheat operations in the world.

Theodore Roosevelt, North Dakota’s adopted son, was the second; and the two-day trip through Dakota’s plains was a homecoming for him.