© 2024
Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

No Horsing Around Construction


They say that there are two seasons in North Dakota-winter and construction. As soon as the ice melts, the snow vanishes, and the cold chill of negative temperatures is forgotten, it's time for the bright orange cones, the hard hats and the heavy equipment to come out. It seems to take forever, but there really can be a good reason for delays.

Such was the case on this date in 1920. Some pavers were working on the city streets of Devils Lake when a very odd thing happened. It seems "a regular, full-grown horse," somehow tumbled, fell down, and then wiggled through a manhole opening. The opening was about 28 inches in diameter, leading to a cistern nearly ten feet below the city streets, used twenty years before as part of Devils Lake's fire protection system. And there, the horse was trapped.

Well, that bizarre happening caused quite an uproar, and of course, there was really only one option available to the workers. So they dropped what they were doing, and hurried to remove the horse from his prison.

Soon, passersby noticed what was going on, and great crowds surrounded the workers and as they attempted to extract the horse. Just imagine: A great throng of people yelling to each other, calling out suggestions and directions, and watching closely as the events unfolded. In the meantime, the horse stood at ease, quiet despite the noise-just waiting to return to the city above.

Eventually, they got some men down to the horse, and they tried to hoist the poor equine to the surface. The first try was not successful, and he tumbled back into the cistern. Luckily for him, the workers tried with better success, and by the time the evening news went out, the horse had been retrieved.

Paving operations were tied up for most of the day, but at least injuries were minor. One man, Sigurd Iverson, was none too pleased to get a kick in the head while trying to get ropes around the horse, but the wound was not serious. And the horse was just fine; the papers surmised that he would be pulling a scraper again soon, with the proper care.

But that's a horse of another color.

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker


Devils Lake Daily World, Saturday Evening, June 5, 1920