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Farmers' Line

3/28/2004:

Most of the existing railways built in the Devils Lake Basin are commonly associated with the Great Northern and Soo Line railroads. But there are two that are a little different.

In 1902, the Farmers Grain & Shipping Company built a railroad known as the “Farmers’ Line” from Devils Lake to Starkweather, and then on to Rock Lake three years later. Although there was undoubtedly some big money behind the effort, the line was a rare example of a railroad built and operated by farmers. “Farmers railroads” had been highly promoted in the late 19th century, but the Devils Lake line was one of very few that were actually constructed.

Two years earlier, another privately built rail line shuttled thousands of visitors between Devils Lake and the State Chautauqua grounds on the lakeshore. It was abandoned in the 1920s, but much of its grade can still be seen.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm