Wild Western Edge: 'History Alive' returns to Medora

The Chateau de Morès State Historic Site will continue a widely loved and longstanding tradition soon by presenting its "History Alive" programs this summer.

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The Chateau de Mores State Historic Site
Dickinson Press file photo
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MEDORA, N.D. — Once again, history will spring into action this summer at Chateau de Morès State Historic Site with the always popular, "History Alive" programs. The free programming chronicles the settlers of early Western Edge frontier life in a unique theater performances sure to delight.

Actors deliver 30 minute monologues derived from original letters, diaries and other documents pertaining to these figures, often straight from the State Historical Society archives.

"History Alive" presentations are held on the Chateau veranda select Fridays at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., Saturdays at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Visitors will hear from a 100-year-old veteran of the Civilian Conservation Corp. (CCC) who helped restore the Marquis Chateau, portrayed by Ed Sahlstrom. The CCC was one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs that provided employment to young men struggling during the Great Depression. The program provided them with shelter, food, clothing and a $30 monthly wage — $25 of which had to be sent back to their families.

Felix Gollnick, a German immigrant portrayed by Donald Ehli, will grace the stage on June 10 to share his knowledge of the site’s namesake Marquis de Morès, the French nobleman and cattle baron who founded Medora. On June 11 and 12, the Marquis himself will appear at the Chateau, portrayed by Lance Rustrand. The Marquis will share his aspirations of becoming livestock tycoon in the rugged late 19th century town that would become Medora.


Madame de Morès, portrayed by Karen Nelson , will perform June 18 and 19. Madame will share her experiences in the wild Dakota Badlands during summers from 1883 to 1886. Nelson has been entertaining visitors for more than 20 years.

"It's a treat and a privilege to be a part of that. My favorite part is making her real for the visitors. It's all acting, but what they feel is that it's 1903 and they were there. I'll continue to do it as long as I can do a good job,” she said in a previous interview with The Dickinson Press.

The view of Medora from the Pancratz Trail.
File photo / The Dickinson Press

The Chateau de Morès site and Interpretive Center near Medora are open daily, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from May 30 through Labor Day. For more information, contact Ed Sahlstrom at 701-623-4355.

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.
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