Mandan News

Riding the rails to hall of fame

D Frank VyzralekOn Aug. 24, the North Dakota State Railroad Hall of Fame will receive its newest inductee. While celebrating the 30th anniversary of the museum, Frank E. Vyzralek, at 4 p.m., in the 1890 Steele Depot, will be honored.

Vyzralek began working for the State Historical Society of North Dakota in 1969 as a researcher. In 1971, Vyzralek became an archivist and in 1977 was appointed to a new position as State Archivist. As State Archivist, Frank transferred thousands of local and state files to North Dakota State Archives.

In 1981 Vyzralek opened Great Plains Research, a private company that performed historical research for companies and governmental agencies. His research passions took him across the state in search of the history of railroad, depots, place names, photographers, baseball and other historical interest.

During his travels, across North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota, Vyzralek searched out any and all remaining railroad depots in order to take photos of them, as well as acquire information of their histories. His interest in the Soo Line Railroad, and his photo collection of their depots, encouraged him to join John A. Gjevre in his publication of the “Saga of the Soo – West from Shoreham,” with a chapter called “Depots and other Structures West from Shoreham,” where he presented photos and the history of the development of the Soo Line depots and other structures in North Dakota.

Vyzralek’s collection of photos of North Dakota depots gave him the opportunity to present a program at the Heritage Center on the depots of the Soo Line Railroad, the Northern Pacific Railroad and the Great Northern Railroad. Out of such presentations, a video was made which has been presented on public access programming. Vyzralek was also given the chance to give his presentation at an annual meeting of the North Dakota State Railroad Museum.

During the past few years, Vyzralek was working on a book about the history and development of the entire railroad system established in North Dakota. His research, photos and records will eventually be transferred to the archives at North Dakota State Historical Society.

Compiling his work, Vyzralek, along with help, will complete the story about the development and history of the North Dakota railroads, and how they made North Dakota the state it is today.
Vyzralek’s service as “North Dakota’s Railroad Historian” is recognized as a great contribution to the State of North Dakota and all the North Dakota’s past and present Railroads.

The North Dakota State Railroad Museum is having “Railroad Days” on Sunday, Aug. 24 from 1-5 p.m. The Railroad Museum is located north of the 7 Seas on the Old Red Trail off of Exit 152 on I-94. Follow the “RR Museum” signs.