Ralph's Bar exhibit opens Tuesday in Moorhead

The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County will work throughout the weekend to finish the much anticipated "Ralph's Corner Bar Exhibit." After two years of interviews and collecting memorabilia from longtime customers, Ralph's is coming back to life.

The new Ralph's Bar exhibit will be at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead.
Contributed / Historical & Cultural Society of Clay County
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MOORHEAD — A celebration marking one of Moorhead's legendary hangouts, is about to begin.

"Artists' prints. They hung on the wall of Ralph's," said Markus Krueger, programming director of the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County.

For archivist Markus Krueger, it's been the dream exhibit.

"We happened to know a lot about this historic bar. that opened in 1890. It was a speak easy during prohibition," Krueger said.

"We needed the help of the community to tell the living memory of Ralph's," Krueger said.


Many remember the bands, and unique music that came out of Ralph's along with the nearby Kirby's Bar.

"Punk rockers and 75-year-old pool sharks playing together. It was a working class bar," Krueger said.

But Ralph's wasn't born in the 60s and 70s, the Moorhead bar is rich in history.

"There are interesting stories to tell here and there is the music, the camaraderie and the family that has developed in the American dive bars," Krueger said.

For the last couple of years, the Historical Society of Clay County has been interviewing those who remember Ralph's. The bar attracted people from all walks of life.

"It was a safe place for misfits. One of the interviewers described it as a freaks seeking safety in numbers," Krueger said.

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If you played summer ball in Moorhead, there is a good chance Ralph's sponsored you. The owner was good friends with Roger Maris. And so Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantel, they loved Ralph's.

Once the call went out for the need for Ralph's souvenirs for the exhibit, people responded. Not just with pictures, but original tables, chairs, beer signs, even the famous cash register. And of course, the posters which are now collectible.


When the Ralph's exhibit opens Tuesday, Nov. 15, beer will be served. The original Ralph would be impressed. Customers and old band members are all expected to come to the exhibit.

"That is one thing about the American bar culture is that these bars, the patrons become family members," Krueger said.

Ralph's closed in 2005 and was torn down for development. The Ralph's Exhibit opens next Tuesday at 5pm, at the museum, which is at the Hjemkomst in Moorhead.

To learn more about the exhibit, visit the Ralph's Corner Bar: Opening Reception on Facebook.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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