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The Sheyenne Blizzard


North Dakota was an up and coming state in 1907. Additional lands had been opened for homesteading, and the journalist field was crowded with newly ordained newspapers. Across the state, publications such as the Barlow Enterprise, the Lankin Journal, the Oriska Post, the Mott Pioneer Press, the Jud Leader and the Marmath Mail, were among forty newly established newspapers. But on this date, a curious little newspaper, known as the "Sheyenne Blizzard," was to suddenly appear and just as suddenly vanish amid the snow-covered fields of a wintery 1907.

An east bound train left the small town of Leeds in central North Dakota on January 18, 1907 heading for Jamestown and points east. Three miles south of Sheyenne, it became stuck in a snowdrift and the train crew had to dig it out. They then backed the train into Sheyenne, where it would wait almost a month for a rotary plow.

After the first week, some of the forty passengers enthusiastically hit upon the idea to publish their own newspaper, and the "Sheyenne Blizzard" was born. This four-page, five column paper carried the publishing date of January 23, 1907 and listed itself as Volume 23, issue 23 and supposedly was turned out in just 23 hours. Basically, the issue was filled with the imaginative adventures of a number of the passengers and was even complete with whimsical classified ads. However, it also carried stories that referred to the townspeople of Sheyenne who had extended their hospitality, kindheartedly assisting the travelers to make their prolonged stay more pleasant. The articles mentioned dances, card parties, and even sports related events. Other articles consisted of unexplained bits of humor, poking fun at a number of the passengers.

The weather in North Dakota is noteworthy for seasonal variations, but the winter of January, 1907 seems strikingly similar to that of 2009. These variations are almost always a topic of any conversation, and extreme conditions often create newspaper headlines, but it is not very often they create the newspaper itself. The "Sheyenne Blizzard" remains a unique event in North Dakota history.

By Jim Davis


The Sheyenne Blizzard, Skidoo Edition by Dolores Vyzralek

The Sheyenne Blizzard, January 23, 1907 North Dakota Newpaper Collection, State Archives of North Dakota