Column from the Dec. 15, 2009 edition of the Prairie Post
Pingree was a booming town back 100 or so years ago. North Dakota Magazine, published by the state Agricultural Department in 1908, characterized the town as well situated for almost every type of commerce.
The community was situated in the midst of rich farm land, railroads were well situated to move goods to and from Pingree and a new county road had just been built from the city to the Kidder County line to the west. After all, it had to be a good road, the county had spend a couple thousand to build it.
The community’s location between the James River and Pipestem Creek was both a blessing and a curse. The area had great opportunities for sportsmen with brooks abounding with “finny inhabitants.” The area also required four steel bridges, some of which may still be in use, to cross the creek and river.
The Pingree area also had a couple of parks. Sunset Park was located right in Pingree while Lake View Park was on the north end of Jim Lake. By the way, Jim Lake was the “queen of the lakes” in Stutsman County back in 1908. Lake View had been platted into lots for cabins and development and was thought to become the summer resort of Stutsman County.
Pingree also had a two year old school building, a downtown full of businesses and a branch of the James River National Bank. The community was as happening a place as any in North Dakota.
And North Dakota was the best place in the country because, as the North Dakota Magazine pointed out, it was shielded from the blighting effects of earthquakes, floods and cyclones.
And Pingree was booming in the communications industry. In fact, the little town had three, and was working on a fourth, telephone companies.
Back in 1908 the residents of Pingree were served by the North Dakota Independent Telephone Company. The people west of town were served by the Pingree and Foothills Exchange and if you lived off to the east you got your telephone bill from the Pingree-Arrowwood Company.
North Dakota Magazine said a new company was being formed to string lines southwest of town.
Back in the early days of telecommunications you could start a phone company with the equipment available in a mail order catalog. Many phone companies in North Dakota started with the husband stringing and maintaining the phone lines while the wife served as the operator.
And I’m guessing that couple starting their new phone company spent less than the average person does on a year’s cell phone service now.