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Bismarck

  • Happy Thanksgiving! Today’s story is a sampling of how the holiday was observed in North Dakota more than 100 years ago.
  • According to the Bismarck Tribune on this date in 1987, Caspar Borggreve was adamant that he never wanted to be known as a dull man. He need not have worried. This Dutchman, who moved across Europe and the upper Midwest, eventually became a beloved restaurateur in Bismarck.
  • You may have read the Sherlock Holmes story, “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” about a demonic hound that terrorizes the heirs of a wealthy estate. Similarly, people throughout North Dakota in the fall of 1936 were gripped by reports from the Canadian border to Bismarck about an African lion.
  • In early August, 1908, citizens of Cranbrook, British Columbia, were fighting a fire that threatened their city when news came over the wire that the Fernie-Fort Steele Brewery in nearby Fernie was on fire. Then the lines of communication went dead. Several hours later, when Cranbrook’s fire scare had mainly passed, communication was reestablish—only to learn that the fire in Fernie had spread, destroying most of the town.
  • The Star Wars franchise has been a pop culture phenomenon since it debuted in 1977. On this date that year, the Dakota Twin Theatres in Bismarck offered showings of “Star Wars” at 7 and 9:20pm. Ads in the Bismarck Tribune noted that the “cosmic adventure” was in its “6th big week!”
  • The Legislature’s first gathering in the second North Dakota Capitol was for a special session called by the since-deposed governor to investigate his federal court conviction. The building was completed in 1934 after the previous Capitol burned in 1930.
  • This date in 1910 marked the conclusion of a three-day, annual firemen’s tournament. This event had a long history stemming from the 1880s, and rotated through different cities, over different dates, drawing many participants and spectators. In 1910, the event was hosted by Bismarck.
  • The Dakota Zoo got its start on the farm of Marc and Betty Christianson, which was located on the northern edge of Bismarck. What started as a boarding kennel for dogs gradually expanded to include a variety of domestic animals. People in the neighborhood regarded the farm as a safe haven for animals, so they brought stray and injured animals to the farm knowing they would be cared for.
  • According to the Bismarck Historical Society, on this date in 1912 there was something lacking in the city of Bismarck — a public library. The public could borrow from the state library at the Capitol, but the lack of a public library still marked Bismarck as less than modern.
  • During the its early years, Bismarck was right on the heels of Deadwood in lawlessness, violence and the selling of liquor. But, by the early 1900s, some residents felt it was time to actually enforce prohibition. Saloons that carried on in secret were called “blind pigs,” and their beverages were either illegally produced locally or smuggled in from Canada.