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Walter Chaloner

8/10/2016:

Along Highway 85 south of Watford City, you’ll find the entrance to the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The signs are hard to miss, unlike the nearby rock memorial to a teenage boy who’s now remembered in local lore.

Walter Chaloner was rounding up stray horses on his family’s ranch one Saturday when his horse failed to jump a ten-foot washout. Horse and rider plunged into the mud below, where the horse died and the fifteen-year-old boy lay trapped, stuck under the horse in the mucky washout.

The boy’s absence led his family to worry, but news he’d been seen in Watford City allayed those fears … but the reports were unfounded. The boy was pinned without food or water beneath a horse he’d grown close to. They had jumped the same washout many times before, just a mile and a half from the Chaloners’ ranch.

On this date in 1933, thirteen-year-old Caroline Chaloner found her brother while searching for the stray horses that had started the whole drama. Walter had been trapped for five days by that time. He was quickly freed and he stayed conscious long enough to explain what happened. He was taken to a hospital in Williston, but he died as he reached the doors. He was buried in Dickinson.

Club members of Fifty Years in the Saddle later dedicated a monument to the boy. The tall marker of cemented stones stands near the entrance of the national park and very close to where Walter Chaloner met his end.

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura

Sources

Walter H. Chaloner monument

McKenzie County Farmer, 1933, Aug. 17. p.1.