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Rural Post Offices


The early days of North Dakota saw a boom as the railroad and settlement both grew. Many towns we know today grew from the tiny communities plopped down by the railroad tracks.

Like Thorne, North Dakota, the rival of Dunseith south of the Turtle Mountains. The town’s post office was established today in 1905, along with a string of other rural post offices in other towns in the state. Thorne grew along the Great Northern Railway, named after either a railroad man or as tribute to area’s prairie roses. Thorne today is much smaller, just a tiny farming community with its railroad pulled up long ago.

Other post offices popping up on this day in 1905 included Lein, which really wasn’t more than a farm post office for Lein Township in Burleigh County. Brothers Bernt and John Lein were postmasters after each other before the outpost closed in 1914. Mail then went to Driscoll.

Way up in Divide County south of Noonan, another farm post office opened at Garfield the same day as Thorne and Lein. Postmaster Hattie Zimmerman oversaw mail duties for the post office on the extreme northwest edge of North Dakota. It closed after three years, mail sent to nearby Kermit, which later closed in 1943 with mail to Noonan. Noonan still operates its post office, but its population has been cut in half since 1990.

Other remnants of startup towns remain in North Dakota. The grain elevator of Rival, North Dakota still stands; Rival was supposed to be the rival of nearby Lignite, North Dakota, but it never grew. Rival lay along the Soo Line and Lignite on the Great Northern. A post office also existed in Rival, but it ended in 1909 after two years—one of many that came and went in establishing communities in North Dakota.

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura


Wick, D.A. (1989). North Dakota place names. Prairie House, Fargo, ND

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