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

Closing of Gemorrah


When North Dakota became a state in 1889, it entered the Union as a dry state, making alcohol illegal. This, of course, was no problem for residents of border towns, who simply made their way across the state line to imbibe. Moorhead, Minnesota, became one such wet haven. With a population of less than 5,000 residents, the city supported nearly 50 saloons in 1915. For this reason, the city earned the nickname “Gemorrah,” but many Moorhead residents disliked the reference to the biblical city of sin, so on May 17th, 1915, they voted to become dry. Residents celebrated on the evening of June 30th, when all saloons were forced to close. Newspapers proclaimed it the “Closing of Gemorrah.”

Dakota Datebook written by Jayme L. Job


Pearson, Ethelyn. 2000 It Really Happened Here: Amazing Tales of Minnesota and the Dakotas: p. 94. McCleery & Sons Publishing: Gwinner, ND.

The Westfield Leader (New Jersey), “The Tale of Two Cities.” Wednesday, May 8, 1918: p. 9. (