Tower City braces for big bash
Most of you probably don't know that Tower City was in the running to become North Dakota's capital city back in the late 1880s. If you're interested in Tower City trivia, stop by the town of 265 this weekend where they'll be celebrating the comm...
Most of you probably don't know that Tower City was in the running to become North Dakota's capital city back in the late 1880s.
If you're interested in Tower City trivia, stop by the town of 265 this weekend where they'll be celebrating the community's 125th birthday.
Tower City, 45 miles west of Fargo on Interstate 94, is home of the internationally known Tower City Fuel Stop and Tower View Café - that place where everyone stops for pie and coffee and good grub. The city has been around since 1879 - 125 years. It was part of Dakota Territory in those days.
The three-day bash, which starts Friday and ends Sunday, has been a year in the making and involves just about everyone in the community, most members of the Tower City Community Club.
Mark Johnson, president of the community club, and wife Pam, have been smack dab in the middle of all the planning. So has Postmaster Jerry Severson, who has made it a point over the years to become a student of Tower City's history.
In fact, Severson was succeeded by Johnson as Tower City's mayor, and Johnson recently turned over mayoral duties to Doug Panchot, who lost a brother, Dale, to enemy action in Iraq. The 26-year-old regular Army staff sergeant from Northome, Minn., died Nov. 17 when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his Bradley Fighting Vehicle while on patrol in Balad, Iraq.
Johnson was out spraying his crops Tuesday, but he found some time to do mowing in town, too, his effort to help spruce things up for the big bash. He also built the track for the horse, tractor and pickup pulls.
Severson says Tower City got aced out by Bismarck as the location of the state capital because the folks behind Bismarck's effort had more money.
But the people from the northeastern United States who settled Tower City (hence Maine Street) weren't slouches. The town's founder was Charlemagne Tower, a well-heeled coal mine owner from Pennsylvania, who also has two other towns named after him - Tower, Minn., and Tower City, Pa.
Tower figured to cash in on the westward progress of the railroads, working out deals to provide coal for trains. In fact, Tower City was a major coal and water stop for trains on the railroad's main line, which still runs through the community. Tower City sat right on top of an aquifer and water was plentiful for thirsty steam engines.
It was also home to four stagecoach lines in the 1880s. Severson says it was even home to a university, but it folded after two years because Tower didn't come up with the money he had promised.
A few harsh winters sent some settlers scurrying back from whence they came, but the diehards stuck it out.
Descendants of those hardy souls will be in town all weekend. The big event Friday will be a 2:30 p.m. dedication of a veteran's memorial, followed by a social at Maple Valley High School.
Noted artist Dave Barnhouse will be on hand all day Saturday and there will be a big parade at 10:30 a.m. A kids' tractor pull and a draft horse pull are set for 1:30 p.m., and there will be many other events, capped off with a street dance at dusk.
Norm's BBQ of Oriska will be serving meals with the help of the Tower City Lutheran Women. There'll be a firefighter's pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to noon Sunday and a church service at the high school at 10 a.m.
Readers can reach Terry DeVine at (701) 241-5515 or firstname.lastname@example.org