The short history of Whynot, North Dakota

In today's "Neighbors" column, Bob Lind hears about the strangely named place that disappeared from the state more than a century ago.

Bob Lind
Bob Lind, Neighbors columnist. The Forum

There once was a place in North Dakota with a peculiar name: Whynot.

As “Neighbors” always does when it wants to find out about a North Dakota town, it went to
“North Dakota Place Names,” the book written by Douglas Wick, Bismarck. Here’s what Doug learned about this name.

It actually was only a country store 8 miles east of Reynolds, N.D., south of Grand Forks. It was run in the state’s pioneer days by Erik Larsgaard.

While it was being built, Doug wrote, “Settlers wondered why Mr. Larsgaard was erecting the store on his land, and he would always answer ‘Why not?’”

Erik then painted this statement in large letters on the front of his store to attract attention.


“When he established a rural post office in his store on May 6, 1892, the choice of name was easy,” Doug wrote.

In 1900, the store was moved a mile northwest to the home of the new postmaster, John Alfson. It closed in 1907, with mail going to Reynolds.

Thus ended the short life of Whynot, N.D.

The ‘66 blizzard

Now let’s go back to March 1966, when a blizzard roared through the Upper Midwest.

“Neighbors” has carried many memories of that storm . Here are more, thanks to Mike Deplazes, West Fargo.

“I was a student at North Dakota State University at that time, living in Churchill Hall, which had no cafeteria,” Mike writes, “so friends and I often ate our evening meal downtown, and often Wood’s Cafe in Moorhead.

“On the Thursday evening the storm struck, after it had slowly moved across the state, we were returning to campus in quite heavy snow, and we saw a large number of yellow flashing lights. “The dome over the gymnasium at Fargo North High School, which was under construction, had collapsed under the snow.

“I have often seen references to the construction of North High, but I’ve never seen any mention of the dome collapsing. I wonder if anyone can confirm my memory of this,” Mike asks.


Over to you, neighbors.

Hired men

Now Mike turns to a “Neighbors” column about hired men on area farms .

“I grew up on a farm,” he writes. “We didn’t use hired men, but several of the neighboring farms did.

“I have often thought today’s generation would be horrified at the idea of having mostly older, itinerant, often alcoholic men living in the farm home, being cared for by the farmer’s wife or sister when they were recovering from a winter spent somewhere warmer, and probably were homeless.

“Most of these men were willing workers and ably performed the hard, physical labor of haying, harvesting and livestock care.

“Of course, there were instances of mechanical problems as mentioned in your column, but equipment in those times was much simpler and less costly to buy and repair.

“I think this story needs to be told before it is entirely forgotten.”

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email

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