Dakota Datebook | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Dakota Datebook

6:42 am, 8:42 am, 3:50 pm*, 5:44 pm, and 7:50 pm* CT
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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 Narrow Escape

Dec 30, 2020


On this date in 1910, the Devils Lake Inter-Ocean reported on the narrow escape of a North Dakota family. The Henry Breah family was traveling to New York City by train. The train had stopped at the Exchange Street Station in Buffalo, New York one night when there was a sudden explosion. Flames shot 40 feet into the air. Windows of the railcars shattered. There were several injuries but no fatalities. It was fortunate that the train was not closer to the explosion.

Legends of the West

Dec 29, 2020


Travel in Dakota Territory was not for the faint of heart. People who came out with wagon trains often walked beside their wagons. Metis traders relied on their two-wheeled Red River carts. Fur traders and mountain men walked and canoed from one end of the territory to the other.


On this date in 1923, it was not exactly looking a lot like Christmas in North Dakota. In fact, the Bismarck Tribune noted that it would NOT be a white Christmas – although "the spirit was there." In other words, the weather was nice. Communities around the state boasted temperatures in the 20s to 30s with just a trace of snow. So, with the weather cooperating, what else was there to do, but play multiple types of outdoor sports? 


The 1918 influenza pandemic emerged in North Dakota weeks before the holiday season. Communities locked down, closing schools, churches, theaters and prohibiting public gatherings. One of the longest flu bans was in Grand Forks, lasting seven weeks.

By one estimate, 5,100 people died in the state as a result of the pandemic, which lingered into 1920.


There have been no American presidents like Theodore Roosevelt for creating volumes of books and other written musings about nature, patriotism, family , the American West, and nearly countless other subjects.

TR was known for devouring books throughout his life. He was a spirited and beloved father to his five children and an adventurer that was as comfortable in a saddle in Medora, Dakota Territory as he was in Washington DC or mingling with the royalty or common folks from around the world. 

In addition to leading the nation’s first exploration to the West Coast, Lewis and Clark are credited with being among the first Americans to celebrate Christmas in what would become North Dakota. The Corps of Discovery, a brainchild of third President Thomas Jefferson, sent the expedition to places on which the fledgling United States had never before officially tread. By purchasing the Louisiana Territory from France, Jefferson had doubled the size of the United States.

Early settlers in North Dakota thought they could bring their familiar farming methods with them, but methods that were successful in the east were not suited to the northern Great Plains. The farmers had to adapt.

Typhoid Fever

Dec 18, 2020

Before the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, or the coronavirus of 2020, North Dakotans dealt with other outbreaks of illness. On this date in 1887, the St. Paul Globe reported that John Richards, the Burleigh County Registrar of Deeds, was seriously ill with typhoid fever. The late 1880s and early 1890s were particularly bad for outbreaks of typhoid, which was also known as mountain fever.


Millions of Americans have changed their homes for many reasons over the years. Far fewer in the Red River Valley have left their home due to the disturbance by ghosts in the house. But that’s exactly what a family in Crookston, Minnesota claimed. The noisy intruders that sent them scampering made newspaper headlines on this day in 1943.

In December 1930, the Committee on Transmissible Diseases of Poultry for the American Veterinary Medical Association presented a paper prepared by doctors Arthur  Schalk and Merle Hawn from the North Dakota Agricultural College.  The paper described Avian Infectious Bronchitis, an illness caused by the infectious bronchitis virus.  This would be the first scientific description of a coronavirus infection.