Earlier this month the Custer Military Trail was named a National Historic District.
One of the sites is the Initial rock where two soldiers of Custer’s Seventh left a little graffiti on their way to the Little Bighorn.
This is a poor picture but you can make out some of the initials and date chipped into the sandstone. The site is near Fryburg, N.D.
I know this is a bit further than the 50 mile circle around Jamestown I usually write about but it got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be nice if a historic trail designation could be made for the old Fort Seward to Fort Totten trail?
Places like the Old Esler Post office area and Limpy Jack’s Dirt Ranch could be marked and commemorated.
The public gardens in Jamestown won awards back in the early days of the 1900s.
This photo comes from a 1919 book by Zena Irma Trinka, titled North Dakota of Today.
Notice the old James River National Bank building in the upper right hand corner. The building now houses Babb’s Coffee House and Great Stories Book Shoppe (a wonderful bookstore even if I, the owner, has to say so.)
This column ran in the July 7 copy of the Prairie Post.
Zena Irma Trinka had a lot of good things to say about Jamestown in her book “North Dakota of Today” published in 1919. It gives us a good glimpse of what this community looked like 90 years ago.
Chapter 6 is titled “Jamestown: ‘The City Beautiful’” and speaks in glowing terms of life of Jamestown. Of course, the concrete buffalo and the nickname “The Buffalo City” were still 40 years in the future.
Trinka wrote about the parks, business district and a “famous Lover’s Lane, flanking the city on the south through which autos, as well as lovers, love to wind in and out of the tortuous drives and loop the loop.”
Photos included the business district, some of the offices in town, boaters on the river, the public gardens, which were located right across from the current Gladstone Inn, and a picture of the old Gladstone Inn.
And a new business to Jamestown got a lot of attention from Trinka. The Bridgeman-Russell Co. had just opened a creamery in town. Several paragraphs are dedicated to describing the process of turning farm fresh cream into butter. It even seems this may have been a bit of tourist attraction back then.
“It is worth a trip to the factory to see the big churns each with a capacity of a thousand pounds,” Trinka wrote.
The plant managed to produce 100,000 pounds of butter in its first 18 days of production, which will butter an awful lot of toast.
That butter left Jamestown in five railroad cars provided by the Northern Pacific and the Midland Continental.
And the Bridgeman-Russell creamery wasn’t the only farm product processing operation in Jamestown. The Russell-Miller Milling Co. was converting wheat to flour at the rate of 1,000 barrels per day.
Trinka also had good things to say about the community infrastructure in Jamestown.
She wrote that over a million dollars had been spent on public improvements like an electric power plant, water works and sewer.
And that is part of our current problem.
While the flour mill and creamery are gone the same sewer pipes that Zinka described as “making the city a sanitary community,” are still in use.
Obviously times change. The city has grown from its population of 7,500 hundred in 1919. Its businesses have changed and the old “famous Lover’s Lane” is gone.
Only the sewer pipes remain.
For those of you so engrossed in your computer screen it is raining outside. At least it is raining at about 11:30 a.m. on July 7 here in Jamestown.
The moisture is welcome. As of last week the National Agriculture Statistics Service placed Jamestown 3.38 inches behind normal for this growing season.
The same report placed us in the adequate catagory for both subsoil and topsoil moisture supplies. Evidently all that snow Mother Nature dumped on us last winter is keeping things growing despite a very dry spring and early summer.
The rain is likely to continue, at least to the early afternoon. After all, the rain falls on the just and the unjust, according to the good book.
I figure most all of us fall somewhere between those two catagories, depending on the level of temptation and number of witnesses.
This story was related during our family gathering over the Fourth of July and tells of a prank an uncle played on one of my aunts probably more than 70 years ago.
My uncle, a middle age or older man at the time, told my aunt, probably less than 10 years old, to sit on the floor.
He poured a little water on the linoleum floor making a small puddle between the young girls legs. He then handed her two forks while he took a small towel and challenged the girl that he could mop up the water and that she couldn’t stop him.
After making a couple of feints with the towel, which the girl defended by poking at the man with the forks, my uncle dropped the towel, grabbed the girl by both feet and drug her bottom across the puddle effectivly wiping it up.
Evidently you didn’t have to have a video game system back in the 1930s to have fun.
According the Clement Lounsberry book "Early History of North Dakota" the following creed was published in the periodical "The Outlook" along with an editorial piece in favor of American involvement in what would be known at that time as The Great War:
An American Creed
I am an American.
I believe in the dignity of labor, the sanctity of the home and the high destiny of democracy.
Courage is my birthright, justice my ideal and faith in humanity my guiding star.
By the sacrifice of those who suffered that I might live, who died that America might endure, I pledge my life to my country and the liberation of mankind.