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A Capitol Trolly


Anyone passing through Bismarck today is able to go to the 17th floor of the capitol building, the observation deck, and view the landscape of the city from above. Tiny people, cars, trees, and buildings can be seen in every direction. There weren't 17 floors in the original Capitol, but at the time it was built, there was much less to look at. The building was quite some distance north of the developing city.

A Capitol "bus," drawn by horse, carted visitors and officials back and forth across this divide. In 1905, a trolley car was put into service, originally to haul coal up the hill to the Capitol, but the car also hauled people and was faster than the horse-drawn bus.

January of 1907 wasn't necessarily one of the most memorable winters, though The Ward County Independent reported that one man from Ryder, Peter Ramstad, rode 45 miles "with a fierce northeaster staring him in the face.” He reported the worst ride he ever experienced in his twenty years living there.

However, on this date, news of the winter and one of its storms was spreading. As the Grand Forks Evening Times reported: "The disadvantages of having the Capitol located so far from the residence portion of the city was doubly apparent ... when the blizzard which was raging over this portion of the state put the street car line out of commission and made it next to impossible to reach the building."

Drifting snow had forced the street car into suspension early on in the day – a hardship for the legislators attending the session. But those who had business at the Capitol still found a way, as carriages and bobsleds were "called into requisition," but the round trip cost $1 as opposed to 10 cents on the street car.

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker


The Ward County Independent, January 24, 1907, p2

"http://www.prairiepublic.org/radio/dakota-datebook?post=45414" http://www.prairiepublic.org/radio/dakota-datebook?post=45414

Grand Forks Evening Times, January 22, 1907, p1