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Indoor Curling Club For Grand Forks In The Works, 1913

10/31/2014:

To hear the word curling brings to mind images of hair-dos and electric curling irons, or maybe even bacon sizzling in a pan, but to winter sports enthusiasts in the North Country, the word curling brings forth memories of rinks, the skip (or captain), 40-pound granite stones, and the whisking brooms sweeping the polished ice to win the bonspiel.

On this date, in 1913, several North Dakota newspapers published the news that Grand Forks was going to build an indoor curling rink for the upcoming winter.

It was big news in Grand Forks, for curling on ice-rinks outdoors had been thriving for decades. In 1890, for instance, a newspaper writer stated: “We want a curling club here,” hoping for a formal organization, with regularly-scheduled competitions.

Those who enjoyed curling played on frozen ponds and on skating rinks in the city parks, but lumpy ice and bitter winds and below-zero temperatures kept many from full engagement in the ancient sport.

Some with Scottish backgrounds embraced the game that originally had been played over 350 years earlier on the frozen lakes and ponds of Scotland with round boulders. The object of the game was to put your team’s 8 large, round stones nearest to the center of the curling target and to knock the opposing team’s 8 stones out of the target zone. The stones closest to the middle counted in each game, called an “end.”

The Grand Forks Commercial Club raised $12,000 to build the city’s first large indoor skating rink with extra ice sheets for curling. Construction began at the corner of Washington and Budge Avenues for a one-story-tall building, 140 by 175 feet. They made a main rink in the middle, for recreational skating, with four separate curling rinks on the sides.

The “ice palace” was ready for icemaking in December, 1913. The icemakers flooded the rinks with successive flows of water to make six inches of ice. A final coat of hot water made the surface as smooth as glass.

Skaters and curling teams swarmed the rink for its long-awaited opening on January 12th, 1914. That evening the ice-rink was alive with bright lights, and an organist boomed out skating melodies as the flashing skate-blades and the whisking brooms and curling stones made for a memorable time in Grand Forks 100 years ago.

Dakota Datebook written by Dr. Steve Hoffbeck, MSU Moorhead History Department.

Sources: “Grand Forks Men Curl This Winter,” Bismarck Daily Tribune , October 31, 1912, p. 1; “Grand Forks Men Curl This Winter; That City Sets An Example Which Other Towns Should Follow,” Weekly Times-Record [Valley City, ND] , October 31, 1912, p. 9.

“Curling Plans Wills Be Pushed,” Grand Forks Daily Herald , March 12, 1913, p. 10.

“We Want A Curling Club Here,” Grand Forks Herald , November 18, 1890, p. 1.

“Talk Of Skating And Curling Rink,” Grand Forks Herald , February 28, 1909, p. 2.

“Ask Bids For Curling Site,” Grand Forks Herald , October 30, 1912, p. 10.

“Curling Rink Will Be A Splendid Structure,” Grand Forks Herald , July 6, 1913, p. 10.

“Rink To Cost $12,000,” Grand Forks Herald , August 6, 1913, p. 6.

“Curling Club To Push Work On Building,” Grand Forks Herald , November 18, 1913, p. 10.

“Lights Installed In Skating Rink,” Grand Forks Herald , December 30, 1913, p. 3.

“Winter Sports Reign Supreme,” Grand Forks Herald , January 6, 1914, p. 4.

“Big Ice Rink Will Open At 2 O’clock,” Grand Forks Herald , January 10, 1914, p. 6.

“Big Crowd At Rink Opening,” January 13, 1914, p. 2.