On this date in 1920, farmers in North Dakota were lamenting the state of their crops. The weather was hot, but dry; and without rain, prospects looked poor – until the following day, when the rain began.
Around Ramsey County, it was reported that three inches of rain fell in approximately 40 minutes. The Devils Lake Daily World reported, “Joy reigned supreme all over town today. Rain – just oceans and oceans of it began to fall just after eleven o’clock. It fell and it fell in torrents – and it wet the ground for miles around – and it filled basements. It filled the World [newspaper] basement with so much water the ‘Devil’ was running ‘round wading in his little bare feet.” The article went on to claim that “the editress, well she got around too and she wasn’t barefooted and she didn’t just ‘xactly walk,” indicating that “strong men” working at the newspaper carried her around the flooded areas.
The article continued: “Mud, oh! There was mud in the streets – mud just everywhere. It always does rain just when our Ramsey County farmers want it … our magnificent Ramsey County farms – they’re all saved now.”
For the next few days, rain flowed throughout the region. It got so bad that in Edmore, the streets were in poor shape. They considered changing their rules of the road, having cars park along the curb rather than the current practice of parking in the middle of the street, but that plan was abandoned as being “unwise, as everyone [was] now used to center parking, and to change would result in confusion for many weeks to come.”
The rain hit a good chunk of the state; it was reported that rain fell for 12 hours in McKenzie County, and in Towner County, the publisher reported that the fields were “blown about,” but looked better than they had since 1915. In Ward County, farmers rejoiced that the rain would check the grasshopper population. One farmer literally danced a jig at the Leland Hotel when it began to rain.
As one prominent farmer from Ramsey County said, “A soaker was just what we needed—and we got it. Now let the grain grow, it sure will.”
Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker
Edmore Herald-News, June 17, 1920
Devils Lake World, June 14, 1920