Summer of centennials along Highway 200: 6 local communities once tied together by Northern Pacific Railway to celebrate 100th anniversaries this summer
Six communities along Highway 200 are preparing to host Centennial Celebrations this summer. The events are on separate weekends, but they share a common bond — the Northern Pacific Railway Co.
As the railroad laid track from Mandan to Killdeer in 1914, communities sprung up along the way.
Sometimes, the surveyors picked a route a mile or so away from a pre-existing settlement, so the town simply picked up and moved closer to the tracks.
The tracks arrived at stations in Dodge on Sept. 6; Halliday on Sept. 13; Werner on Sept. 27; Dunn Center on Oct. 6; and Killdeer on Oct. 25, according to records from “Dauntless Dunn 1970.”
The cities of Killdeer, Dunn Center, Halliday, Dodge, Golden Valley and Beulah are planning 100th celebrations to mark their heritage. Hazen and Zap hosted events last year. Werner, located between Dunn Center and Halliday, became ghost town.
Many of the centennial committees are working with Carie Boster, Dunn County Job Development Authority executive director. She is providing technical advice and promoting their events.
“I think it’s good any time you get together with neighbors to celebrate who we are and where we are going,” she said. “The dates are a fantastic time to schedule family reunions, class reunions and become reacquainted with old friends. It will be a fantastic summer with something to do every weekend.”
Take a look at the celebrations in the order in which they’ll occur.
The centennial at Dodge is June 6-8, a three-day celebration that has taken more than a year to plan.
“We’re doing this for the people from Dodge,” mayor Leonard Streifel said. “We had a pretty big 75th party, but I think we’re making a lot more contacts for the 100th.”
Committee members are working on a Dodge centennial book, an all-school reunion, a ranch rodeo and musical entertainment. The town is currently looking for the city’s oldest resident to be the grand marshal for the parade, he said.
Golden Valley’s celebration is June 13-15. Friday opens with social events at the Community Center, followed by a jam session.
Saturday features the parade, live music on Main Street, a car show, activities for the children and a beef barbecue. Sunday concludes with a community worship service.
Golden Valley is among the communities that started as a settlement, but moved when the railroad came through in 1914. The settlement had been about two miles northwest of its present location, committee member Darlene Bauman said.
“In 1909, a guy built a store and living quarters — they even applied for a post office,” she said. “When the surveyors came, the Golden Valley was known as Olanta, and the name was changed.”
When Bauman and her husband were married in 1958, she remembers the town had numerous businesses — three banks, a lawyer and a dentist, a grocery store, cafes and bars.
Over the years, the town dwindled down but it is seeing a resurgence of prosperity. The oil industry has brought business to town, while the trailer parks fill up in the summer.
The citizens have witnessed an upswing on the traffic, especially oil trucks hauling oil to the railroad terminal at Zap.
“We have so much truck traffic, we have to be careful,” she said. “We have no complaints, so far as we have really good people.”
The community has worked countless hours raising money to host the centennial.
“It’s our biggest celebration,” she said.
Halliday has scheduled its centennial celebration for June 21-22.
A special effort has been made to contact all the alumni.
“I’ve sent more than 600 letters to alumni,” committee member Marion Ferebee said.
The school will be open for tours and people will have an opportunity to buy a centennial book.
The centennial will feature a parade on Saturday and the school will be open for tours. There will be a car and tractor show, a street dance, an all-day quilt show and food vendors. Buggy rides are tentative.
The old Halliday was established in 1900 as a post office. This would make it the oldest town in Dunn County, according to records from “Dauntless Dunn 1970.”
The location was the ranch home of William Halliday, some two miles north of the present city. In 1914, the post office was moved to its new location on the railroad, where the community was already under construction.
“The coming of the railroad opened a vast new territory for settlement and it was not long until this new business center for eastern Dunn County was on its way,” as reported in the book.
“Our town has changed so much, that it doesn’t feel like the same town,” Ferebe said.
Those who have moved away are encouraged to return to see the changes.
“A lot of houses that were empty are being restored, and the prices of houses are unbelievable,” she said.
Committee member Carolyn Klopp said the reunion is an opportunity to greet the people who have returned to visit.
“I’ll be looking to put a face with the names I’ve heard discussed around coffees,” she said.
Killdeer will celebrate its centennial with events scheduled for July 3-6.
“It’s a big event for us to mark 100 years,” committee member Dawn Marquardt said. “There will be an all-school reunion at the same time. We have invited all the alumni to come back. I think their curiosity will bring them back to see the changes.”
Killdeer hosts a smaller annual celebration around the Fourth of July weekend, mostly centered around North Dakota’s oldest PRCA rodeo, the Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo. This will be the 90th year of the event.
“We always have a big draw of people from the area, and it fits our community,” Marquardt said.
There will be a salute to veterans, followed by the added highlight of opening a time capsule at the Veterans Memorial to see what’s inside and to add items to the collection, Marquardt said.
The four-day event features a Thursday, July 3 street dance and concert by North Dakota singers Gwen Sebastian and Tigirlily outside of the Buckskin Bar & Grill. North Dakota band 32 Below will perform a street dance and concert at 9 p.m. on Friday, the Fourth of July, with fireworks to follow.
On the day of Fourth, there’ll be a Heritage Show, the Dunn County Cruisers Car Show and a parade preceding the rodeo performance.
Beulah credits its founding to the pre-existing coal mines and railroad that came through in 1914.
To help celebrate the milestone, a steering committee was formed that involves the Beulah Chamber of Commerce and numerous volunteers from the community.
Beulah will celebrate its Centennial Aug. 7-10.
“We have so much going on,” said Steffanie Boeckel, the executive director of the Beulah Chamber. “Some are bigger events like the concerts, and everything is subject to change,” she said.
What is certain, is the city is holding an all-school reunion, music on Main Street, a parade and an old-fashioned picnic in River Park.
“The other thing, is all our events are free and open to the public — we have no gate charges,” she said.
The committee is working on a rodeo, along with music for younger and older generations.
There will be numerous concerts both days, wrapped up by a Hairball concert at 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9.
“We had a big 75th jubilee, but this celebration will probably be bigger,” she said.
Boeckel views the celebration as an opportunity to become reacquainted with family and friends who may have moved away.
“Hopefully, you will be thoroughly entertained by all the events going on,” she said.
When the railroad arrived in 1914, the train was called the Galloping Goose, committee member Cherri Lynch said.
“The railroad was the lifeline of the community and made them prosper,” she said.
Immigrants established a settlement about one-and-a-half miles east of the present Dunn Center in 1913, but moved the town to be closer to the railroad.
Lynch and her husband, Scott, have seen numerous changes to Dunn Center over the years.
“We’re not growing quite as fast as some areas, but we are growing,” she said.
Dunn Center will hold its celebration on Saturday, Sept. 13.
“It’s a big deal,” she said. “We’re pretty excited to be part of all it. So many of us may have lived in one community or went to school in another. We’re all tied together.”