Mandan News

Diane Boit: Missouri and Heart Rivers flood Mandan, 1887

25 Years Ago – 1987

Don Hanson has resigned as basketball coach at Mandan High School. The highlight of his years at Mandan High occurred in 1981 when the Braves became the State Class A Basketball Champions. Hanson was also named the Coach of the Year for 1981. His 23-year coaching career included several years with the Holstein team New Salem High School during the 1960s and ’70s.

Don Hanson from 1987.

The Mandan American Legion has distributed more than $45,200 in charitable gaming funds for the last quarter of 1986. Among the organizations receiving dollars were: the Legion baseball program, $10,000; All Seasons Arena, $5,000; Mandan Public Library, $3,000; Mandan Park Board, $3,000 for the Little League program and dumpsters at Legion park; Liberty Heights Tenant Council, $2,000; Meals on Wheels, $1,500; Ultimate graduation party, $1,000; and the Mandan Hospital, $900.


50 Years Ago – 1962

Rugby’s Paul Presthus, rated by many coaches and observes as of the best ballplayers ever in State Class A circles, heads the 1962 All-Western Dakota Association basketball team. Joining Presthus on the team are “burly Dan Hilligoss of Mandan, lanky Phil Jackson of Williston, sparkplug Marv Pederson of Minot and hustling Dave Rudrud, Bismarck.”

Dan Hilligoss from 1962.

The Mott Cardinals have repeated as Class B Basketball Champs, defeating St. Mary’s of New England, 58-42. The Cardinals have now compiled 52 straight victories over the past two seasons.

For the Class C division (schools with enrollments of less than 75): The Makoti Cardinals are the state champions in probably the last Class C School basketball tournament, easily defeating the Crary Comets, 80-53. The N.D. High School Association has voted to go into two classes, beginning with the 1963 school year.


75 Years Ago – 1937

The Heart and Missouri Rivers broke up safely this past week. Although plenty of dynamite was on hand to dislodge ice packs in the rivers, the ice went out smoothly with no danger of overland flooding.

The Mandan Braves basketball season and their hopes for a berth in the State Tournament ended on March 12 with a loss to the Bismarck Demons, 32-15. Hampering the Braves during the final weeks of the season was the loss of several of their key players, including Don Smith and Gordon House, who were confined to their homes under quarantine for scarlet fever. The Demons ended their season in the Class A championship game and were defeated, 22-21, by the defending champs, Minot Magicians.

More than $10,000 has been received for the first half of the school year by the state equalization fund for distribution to eight school districts in Morton County, according to Mrs. Gena A. Jensen, county superintendent of schools. Payments are based on need and on non-residential high school tuition. The tuition is for 335 students who come from other districts where there are no high school facilities. The Mandan district received the lion’s share of the apportionment with $3,027 for 117 students.


100 Years Ago – 1912

“The school board met on Thursday evening for the election of officers and teachers for the coming year. Superintendent C. L. Love and Professor L. E. Bear were re-elected to their old positions.

“The first meeting of the directors of the Missouri Slope Agriculture and Fair Association to elect officers and start the ball rolling for this year’s fair was held last evening. Last year’s officers were re-elected as follows: C. F. Massingham, president; T. A. Cummins, vice president; Dr. E. Mackey, secretary; and A. Boley, treasurer.

“The Mandan high school basketball team journeyed over to the Capitol City on Thursday evening and were trimmed by the N.D. National Guard Co. A to the tune of 37 to 9. The local boys put up a hard game against their larger opponents but were unable to score many baskets. In spite of the one-sided score, the game was a clean one.”


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.

March 16-17, 1887: “On Thursday at 3:30 p.m. the thermometer stood at 49 degrees above zero.

“Sometime during the night, the up river gorge broke on the Missouri and set adrift a torrent of water and ice which by an early hour this morning had spread over the hay bottoms east of town and above the Northern Pacific bridge. A gorge began to form at the bridge and the ice piled up, reaching from the bridge to Sibley Island. This, of course, caused the water to rise on the flats and along the dyke.

“The accommodation train tried to pass between Mandan and Bismarck today but gave it up when it struck several feet of water on the track east of the town.

“All forenoon, Main Street was a scene of confusion with families moving out of their quarters and wagons hauling household goods to higher ground.

“At 11 a.m. fast time, a number of gentlemen were timing the water rising at the dyke. Mr. H. R. Lyon took out his watch and noticed that in ten minutes, the water rose six inches.

“At 12 noon fast time, the last man left the railroad shops-James Simpson. All the others had gone out before, and the water was then three inches deep on the floor of the shops. As the shop men left, the water began to rush in fast across the railroad yards and in fifteen minutes, it was running across the track between the water tank and the office of the Master mechanic and was within 30 feet of the passenger depot.

“At 4:30, the water had spread over nearly the whole of Mandan, and the basement of the Pioneer building (318 W. Main) was filled with water.

“At 4:35 fast time, Mandan presents a Venetian appearance. Boats are moving about on the streets. Photographer Gilbert is out with his camera and has taken a number of views. The water is still rising. The Heart River has not broken.”

From 1887, the calling card of Photographer Gilbert.

A photo from 1887 showing the flood of Mandan. The castle-looking building in the upper left corner is the Morton County Courthouse on Collins Avenue.

(To contact Diane, email