Mandan News

Diane Boit: Eighth Avenue viaduct opens, 1912

25 Years Ago – 1987

Three Morton County high school riders are heading to the National Finals Rodeo to be held in Pueblo, Colo. Jodi Winkler, New Salem, is the Champion North Dakota cowgirl in the pole-bending competition. Champion North Dakota high school calf-roper is Will Rossow, Flasher. Finishing second in the saddle bronc competition, but still qualifying for the Nationals, is Marlyn Staiger, of Glen Ullin.


50 Years Ago – 1962

John M. Grier, of Rugby, has been named administrator of the Mandan Community Hospital. He succeeds Lloyd J. Thompson. Grier had been a sales representative with Standard Oil of Indiana for 34 years before retiring in 1957. He and his wife have resided in North Dakota since 1923.

A crew of 13 boys from the State Industrial School at Mandan has been working in the Fort Lincoln State Park under a pilot program initiated this year by Governor William L. Guy, the Division of State Parks and the State School. Since the first of June, the boys have created several picnic and camping areas out of the dense brush in the park. After baling the brush, the boys wired the bales to stakes driven into the bank of the Missouri before finally covering them with rocks as a rip-rapping effort to stop further bank erosion. According to supervisor Al Reule, “Project Youth” has given the boys an opportunity to earn money and, for many, it’s their first chance to hold a security number.

Mr. and Mrs. Anton Ereth of 902 First St. N.E. were honored by their children at a 50th wedding anniversary reception at the Mandan Moose Lodge. Mr. Ereth came to the United States in 1910 from Romania and married the former Anna Froelich at Odense in 1912. The couple farmed at Odense and Solen before retiring to Mandan in 1959. Nine of their ten children attended the anniversary dinner and dance.


75 Years Ago – 1937

Three days after the tragic drowning, the body of John Bernhardt, 17, was lifted from a watery grave in the treacherous Heart River near the Dogtown bridge. Although neither he nor his 15-year-old brother could swim, the two boys had plunged into the river during the early afternoon in an effort to “cool off” from the intense summer heat. The local fire and police departments led by Police Chief Jim Buckley and Fire Chief Mike Heidt, along with dozens of volunteers, used boats and nets during their search of the river, but the body was eventually found by a human chain of 10 men suspended by a rope, who walked the river bottom.

Funeral services were held at St. Joseph Church, Mandan. Besides his younger brother, Bernhardt’s survivors include his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Bernhardt, and a sister. Another brother, 17, died of pneumonia in 1935. Bernhardt’s mother is a relief worker employed on the ceramics project; his father is an invalid.

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The sun dance of the Sioux nation returned to North Dakota this past week for the first time since 1880 as more than 1,000 Indians gathered in a mile-long encampment surrounding a circular stockade, east of Cannon ball at the junction of the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers. Eighty-year-old Bear Heart, of Cannonball, conducted the opening ceremony. With a prayer for rain and food, the Indians fasted for nearly three days as they danced around a sacred pole erected inside the stockade. A modern note crept into the 31-hour ordeal as Indians utilized a loud speaker set to explain the dance to spectators and then set up gas lamps to light the night scene. There was no indication of the torture element, which was suppressed from the dance 57 years ago.

National News – Washington, D.C.: The Senate Labor committee has approved an amended Black-Connery wage and hour bill today. The amendment would permit an administrative board to fix minimum wages no higher than 40 cents an hour and a maximum work week not less than 40 hours.

Two Mandan Pioneer ads from 1937 for the Red Owl Store, located at 118 E. Main St., and the Friesz Store, located at 114 E. Main St.

100 Years Ago – 1912

“The big Eighth Avenue viaduct was thrown open to traffic on Monday. Although some work needs to be done on the grades approaching the structure, the viaduct itself is a fine piece of work, and, in point of service to the Northern Pacific, will prove a great saving in time. A big force of men is at work rushing the laying of tracks so as to have the yards ready for service before the crops begin to move. The work of closing up the Sixth Avenue crossing is now under way. The tracks between the east and west end yards will be removed, leaving only two tracks near the passenger depot.

“There has been some talk of building a subway under the tracks at the depot for foot travel. This would prove a great convenience to the residents and to men employed in the railroad shops, and would lessen the danger from accidents, for despite the closing of the streets, people will naturally venture across the tracks to save a longer walk.

“A shooting affair took place at St. Anthony on Monday of this week. George Pitzer, for some unexplainable reason, took three shots at Steve Tokash, one while he was in the store at St. Anthony and two more while he was driving away. Pitzer has been taken into custody and is waiting the decision of the authorities on the proper way to handle the case.”


125 Years Ago – 1887

The village of Mandan was organized in the spring of 1881; by 1887 the population was already nearing the 2,500 mark.

July 20, 1887: “On Friday, at 3:30 p.m. the thermometer stood at 92 degrees above zero.

“Mr. J. R. Mann of Hancock, Dakota, has just obtained permission from Dr. Henry Coe, president of the Morton County Board of Health, to remove a number of dead bodies into this county from Fort Stephenson to Fort Lincoln. Mr. Mann has received a contract for the work from the military department. This would indicate that it’s not the intention of the authorities to abandon Fort Lincoln.

“Although some of the Mandan mosquitoes are of size ranging from fair to middling, an esteemed fellow citizen assures us they are not so large as they were several years ago. Then, a good many of them would weigh a pound and would sit on the trees and bark.

“Here is a puzzle. If coal can be raised in Duluth and Chicago 25 cents a ton with the thermometer at 90 degrees above zero, how much can it be raised in Mandan when the thermometer is 35 below zero? This is a real puzzler.”


(To contact Diane Boit, email