Bismarck | Prairie Public Broadcasting



The U.S. census is conducted every ten years, in every year ending in zero. But demographers are always gathering data on residence and migration. A similar effort was just beginning more than a century ago in Bismarck. A committee was organizing a religious census of North Dakota’s capital city on this date in 1912.


North Dakota’s Capitol grounds reflect events of the state’s past. A statue of Sakakawea was dedicated in 1910 to honor the Shoshone woman who helped the Corps of Discovery journey west. A memorial honors military veterans, and there’s also a memorial for peace officers who fell in the line of duty.

Dakota Zoo

Jun 3, 2020


The Dakota Zoo in Bismarck opened its gates for the first time on this date in 1961. The attraction grew out of a private business known as the Christianson Farm. On the north edge of the city, Marc and Betty Christianson had kennels to board domesticated animals like cats, dogs and horses. At a certain point, they also began to raise mink.


North Dakota has had more than a few visits from presidents over the years, but first ladies have come here, too. Laura Bush visited Sims Scandinavian Lutheran Church in Morton County in 2008. Michelle Obama accompanied President Obama to Cannon Ball in 2014. And Edith Roosevelt, years before she became first lady, visited Theodore’s Elkhorn Ranch north of Medora during one of his last substantial visits to the Badlands.


In 1929, the Bismarck CIty Commission began to take control of parking by instituting a two-hour parking limit in the business section between 7am and 6pm. They ordered 65 signs to post around the city for that purpose, and it went into effect the first of May of 1930. Commissioners also decided to paint the parking lines on the sidewalks in yellow instead of the red that had been used, so that they could be seen better at night. 

Today we examine a buried-treasure legend from the 1920s, an unlikely tale that triggered a treasure hunt in Bismarck.

On this date in 1923, the murder trial of Kasimir Schneider began. Kasimir, an ice cream maker, was accused of murdering his second wife, Amelia. Kasimir and his first wife, Magdalena, came to the United States from Russia in 1905, settling in Bismarck. Magdalena died in child birth in 1921. The baby survived, and only five months later Kasimir married Amelia just three days after meeting her. He took out a $2,000 life insurance policy on his young wife.

On this date in 1930, Bismarck was busy preparing for the town’s first-ever presentation of Handel's "Messiah." Clarion Larsen, director of the production, believed the production would help inspire the community. Larsen noted that the youth in Bismarck showed an interest in studying music, but the adults, while happy to put forward their progeny for this, did not seem to take part themselves.

U.C.T. Halloween

Oct 30, 2019

The United Commercial Travelers is a non-profit fraternal benefit society that touts services and products for its clientele, while giving back to the local communities. It formed in Columbus, Ohio, as a society to provide accident insurance and other benefits for traveling salesman and their families. The organization spread throughout the United States and Canada, but today, Grand Forks has the only local chapter in North Dakota. Previously, Fargo and Bismarck both had active chapters. I. W. Cunningham, who was the national organizer of the Loyal Order of the Moose, was quoted in the newspaper as saying, "I am a U.C.T. because I believe in progress. The United Commercial Travelers is one of the most progressive fraternities on Earth today. If it had not announced its intention of going a step beyond any other social, fraternal, and commercial order, I would not be a member of it."

As we heard last week, the first North Dakota Industrial Exposition was held in Bismarck in 1911. It was a smashing success, and plans were immediately made to repeat it the following year, and it was on this date in 1912 that the Second North Dakota Industrial Exposition opened in Bismarck. The expositions were designed to bring in out-of-state visitors and encourage investment in North Dakota. The state hoped for thousands of new settlers.