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While we sleep: A look at Fargo-Moorhead after dark

FARGO - Call it an investigation, a mission of discovery, a type of wondering. I've always wondered what this place looks like in the middle of the night.

There's no traffic on Broadway in downtown Fargo in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum
There's no traffic on Broadway in downtown Fargo in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum

FARGO – Call it an investigation, a mission of discovery, a type of wondering. I've always wondered what this place looks like in the middle of the night. Not just late. Midnight is way too early. Too many places still open, too many people in the normal path of their days. What does this town look like at 3 a.m.? There is only one car in the parking lot at West Acres Shopping Center. A sedan, close to the front doors. There is no way to know if it is abandoned, broken, forgotten or simply waiting. Every other parking space is clear. I drive around the mall. Yes, there are a couple of cars in the outer rim, but only this one in the spaces for customers. One out of 5,000 spaces. One at a mall that sees 7 million people a year. There are no lines at the airport. No waiting for the ticket agent, no shifting left and then right and then left before we take off our shoes, our belts, our jackets, remove our laptops, hold our hands above our heads. The last flight has come, and the passengers have collected their hugs and their baggage. 448,848 people left from this airport last year, 445,578 arrived. In the middle of the night though, the doors are locked. For just a couple of hours, before TSA shows up to begin the preparations for the first flight out, the building is empty and secure.
It is no surprise that the crowded places are not crowded at night, even though it's unusual to see them that way. But the city is not asleep. A thousand times a day, someone dials 911. When there is an emergency, a need for help, the phone rings at the Red River Regional Dispatch Center. Six people work the phones, computer monitors nearly surrounding each one. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1843978","attributes":{"alt":"The westbound Amtrak Empire builder arrives in town. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum ","class":"media-image","height":"411","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 20.0063037872314px;","title":"The westbound Amtrak Empire builder arrives in town. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum ","width":"1000"}}]]They work 10-hour shifts. While they are busiest between 3 and 7 p.m., those calls include lost dogs, noisy neighbors, a parked car blocked by another. In the middle of the night, the calls are more urgent, more serious, a great deal more sad. I've always wondered what they see when we call. The streets of Fargo and Moorhead are nearly vacant at 3 a.m., but this is only a comparison to a daylight sense of normal. Officer Michael Bloom patrols the city and, if tonight is an average night, his help or correction will be needed 15 times.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844049","attributes":{"alt":"An empty college parking lot. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"512","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;","title":"An empty college parking lot. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]] There are those parts of the night we all know but seldom see. The Amtrak Empire Builder, legendary flagship of the old Great Northern Line, runs from Chicago to Seattle and stops in Fargo every night. Two trains, in fact-one heading west, one heading east. This is Amtrak's busiest long-distance route and the waiting room, which does not open before midnight, is full. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844051","attributes":{"alt":"The security line at Hector International Airport is vacant. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"2808","title":"The security line at Hector International Airport is vacant. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"5649"}}]] When the train arrives, it's old-world romantic, a rush of speed and chrome, a polite conductor, an old baggage cart that seems rescued from the pony express. Bogart is somewhere nearby. And then there is the deeply invisible. At the Moorhead Water Plant, Daryl Brahos keeps the water safe, the pressure up, the whole city able to turn on a tap as thoughtlessly as breathing. He's been there eight years. In that time, he tells me, he's checked the water quality 17,000 times. More than 2 million gallons move by him every night. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844053","attributes":{"alt":"Daryl Brahos oversees the Moorhead Water Plant in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"667","title":"Daryl Brahos oversees the Moorhead Water Plant in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]] Yet here is the surprise. There is a type of beauty and hope in the middle of a summer night here, like a black-and-white photograph that evokes an unexpected emotion. A different set of details emerges. The interstate is empty. The Island Park pool is still and deeply quiet. Broadway is empty. A parking lot lamppost lights two trees, looking both inviting and lonely, too. And while they are cut from the bridges of Paris, love locks have begun to appear on the interstate pedestrian bridge. It all happens while we sleep.FARGO – Call it an investigation, a mission of discovery, a type of wondering. I've always wondered what this place looks like in the middle of the night. Not just late. Midnight is way too early. Too many places still open, too many people in the normal path of their days. What does this town look like at 3 a.m.? There is only one car in the parking lot at West Acres Shopping Center. A sedan, close to the front doors. There is no way to know if it is abandoned, broken, forgotten or simply waiting. Every other parking space is clear. I drive around the mall. Yes, there are a couple of cars in the outer rim, but only this one in the spaces for customers. One out of 5,000 spaces. One at a mall that sees 7 million people a year. There are no lines at the airport. No waiting for the ticket agent, no shifting left and then right and then left before we take off our shoes, our belts, our jackets, remove our laptops, hold our hands above our heads. The last flight has come, and the passengers have collected their hugs and their baggage. 448,848 people left from this airport last year, 445,578 arrived. In the middle of the night though, the doors are locked. For just a couple of hours, before TSA shows up to begin the preparations for the first flight out, the building is empty and secure.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1843964","attributes":{"alt":"Fargo Police Officer Michael Bloom patrols the streets. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"558","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 20.0063037872314px;","title":"Fargo Police Officer Michael Bloom patrols the streets. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]] It is no surprise that the crowded places are not crowded at night, even though it's unusual to see them that way. But the city is not asleep. A thousand times a day, someone dials 911. When there is an emergency, a need for help, the phone rings at the Red River Regional Dispatch Center. Six people work the phones, computer monitors nearly surrounding each one. 

There's no traffic on Broadway in downtown Fargo in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum
There's no traffic on Broadway in downtown Fargo in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum

They work 10-hour shifts. While they are busiest between 3 and 7 p.m., those calls include lost dogs, noisy neighbors, a parked car blocked by another. In the middle of the night, the calls are more urgent, more serious, a great deal more sad. I've always wondered what they see when we call. The streets of Fargo and Moorhead are nearly vacant at 3 a.m., but this is only a comparison to a daylight sense of normal. Officer Michael Bloom patrols the city and, if tonight is an average night, his help or correction will be needed 15 times.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844049","attributes":{"alt":"An empty college parking lot. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"512","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;","title":"An empty college parking lot. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]] There are those parts of the night we all know but seldom see. The Amtrak Empire Builder, legendary flagship of the old Great Northern Line, runs from Chicago to Seattle and stops in Fargo every night. Two trains, in fact-one heading west, one heading east. This is Amtrak's busiest long-distance route and the waiting room, which does not open before midnight, is full. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844051","attributes":{"alt":"The security line at Hector International Airport is vacant. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"2808","title":"The security line at Hector International Airport is vacant. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"5649"}}]] When the train arrives, it's old-world romantic, a rush of speed and chrome, a polite conductor, an old baggage cart that seems rescued from the pony express. Bogart is somewhere nearby. And then there is the deeply invisible. At the Moorhead Water Plant, Daryl Brahos keeps the water safe, the pressure up, the whole city able to turn on a tap as thoughtlessly as breathing. He's been there eight years. In that time, he tells me, he's checked the water quality 17,000 times. More than 2 million gallons move by him every night. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844053","attributes":{"alt":"Daryl Brahos oversees the Moorhead Water Plant in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"667","title":"Daryl Brahos oversees the Moorhead Water Plant in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]] Yet here is the surprise. There is a type of beauty and hope in the middle of a summer night here, like a black-and-white photograph that evokes an unexpected emotion. A different set of details emerges. The interstate is empty. The Island Park pool is still and deeply quiet. Broadway is empty. A parking lot lamppost lights two trees, looking both inviting and lonely, too. And while they are cut from the bridges of Paris, love locks have begun to appear on the interstate pedestrian bridge. It all happens while we sleep.FARGO – Call it an investigation, a mission of discovery, a type of wondering. I've always wondered what this place looks like in the middle of the night. Not just late. Midnight is way too early. Too many places still open, too many people in the normal path of their days. What does this town look like at 3 a.m.? There is only one car in the parking lot at West Acres Shopping Center. A sedan, close to the front doors. There is no way to know if it is abandoned, broken, forgotten or simply waiting. Every other parking space is clear. I drive around the mall. Yes, there are a couple of cars in the outer rim, but only this one in the spaces for customers. One out of 5,000 spaces. One at a mall that sees 7 million people a year. There are no lines at the airport. No waiting for the ticket agent, no shifting left and then right and then left before we take off our shoes, our belts, our jackets, remove our laptops, hold our hands above our heads. The last flight has come, and the passengers have collected their hugs and their baggage. 448,848 people left from this airport last year, 445,578 arrived. In the middle of the night though, the doors are locked. For just a couple of hours, before TSA shows up to begin the preparations for the first flight out, the building is empty and secure.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1843964","attributes":{"alt":"Fargo Police Officer Michael Bloom patrols the streets. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"558","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 20.0063037872314px;","title":"Fargo Police Officer Michael Bloom patrols the streets. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]] It is no surprise that the crowded places are not crowded at night, even though it's unusual to see them that way. But the city is not asleep. A thousand times a day, someone dials 911. When there is an emergency, a need for help, the phone rings at the Red River Regional Dispatch Center. Six people work the phones, computer monitors nearly surrounding each one. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1843978","attributes":{"alt":"The westbound Amtrak Empire builder arrives in town. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum ","class":"media-image","height":"411","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 20.0063037872314px;","title":"The westbound Amtrak Empire builder arrives in town. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum ","width":"1000"}}]]They work 10-hour shifts. While they are busiest between 3 and 7 p.m., those calls include lost dogs, noisy neighbors, a parked car blocked by another. In the middle of the night, the calls are more urgent, more serious, a great deal more sad. I've always wondered what they see when we call. The streets of Fargo and Moorhead are nearly vacant at 3 a.m., but this is only a comparison to a daylight sense of normal. Officer Michael Bloom patrols the city and, if tonight is an average night, his help or correction will be needed 15 times.

There's no traffic on Broadway in downtown Fargo in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum
There's no traffic on Broadway in downtown Fargo in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum

There are those parts of the night we all know but seldom see. The Amtrak Empire Builder, legendary flagship of the old Great Northern Line, runs from Chicago to Seattle and stops in Fargo every night. Two trains, in fact-one heading west, one heading east. This is Amtrak's busiest long-distance route and the waiting room, which does not open before midnight, is full. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844051","attributes":{"alt":"The security line at Hector International Airport is vacant. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"2808","title":"The security line at Hector International Airport is vacant. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"5649"}}]] When the train arrives, it's old-world romantic, a rush of speed and chrome, a polite conductor, an old baggage cart that seems rescued from the pony express. Bogart is somewhere nearby. And then there is the deeply invisible. At the Moorhead Water Plant, Daryl Brahos keeps the water safe, the pressure up, the whole city able to turn on a tap as thoughtlessly as breathing. He's been there eight years. In that time, he tells me, he's checked the water quality 17,000 times. More than 2 million gallons move by him every night. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844053","attributes":{"alt":"Daryl Brahos oversees the Moorhead Water Plant in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"667","title":"Daryl Brahos oversees the Moorhead Water Plant in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]] Yet here is the surprise. There is a type of beauty and hope in the middle of a summer night here, like a black-and-white photograph that evokes an unexpected emotion. A different set of details emerges. The interstate is empty. The Island Park pool is still and deeply quiet. Broadway is empty. A parking lot lamppost lights two trees, looking both inviting and lonely, too. And while they are cut from the bridges of Paris, love locks have begun to appear on the interstate pedestrian bridge. It all happens while we sleep.FARGO – Call it an investigation, a mission of discovery, a type of wondering. I've always wondered what this place looks like in the middle of the night. Not just late. Midnight is way too early. Too many places still open, too many people in the normal path of their days. What does this town look like at 3 a.m.? There is only one car in the parking lot at West Acres Shopping Center. A sedan, close to the front doors. There is no way to know if it is abandoned, broken, forgotten or simply waiting. Every other parking space is clear. I drive around the mall. Yes, there are a couple of cars in the outer rim, but only this one in the spaces for customers. One out of 5,000 spaces. One at a mall that sees 7 million people a year. There are no lines at the airport. No waiting for the ticket agent, no shifting left and then right and then left before we take off our shoes, our belts, our jackets, remove our laptops, hold our hands above our heads. The last flight has come, and the passengers have collected their hugs and their baggage. 448,848 people left from this airport last year, 445,578 arrived. In the middle of the night though, the doors are locked. For just a couple of hours, before TSA shows up to begin the preparations for the first flight out, the building is empty and secure.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1843964","attributes":{"alt":"Fargo Police Officer Michael Bloom patrols the streets. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"558","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 20.0063037872314px;","title":"Fargo Police Officer Michael Bloom patrols the streets. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]] It is no surprise that the crowded places are not crowded at night, even though it's unusual to see them that way. But the city is not asleep. A thousand times a day, someone dials 911. When there is an emergency, a need for help, the phone rings at the Red River Regional Dispatch Center. Six people work the phones, computer monitors nearly surrounding each one. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1843978","attributes":{"alt":"The westbound Amtrak Empire builder arrives in town. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum ","class":"media-image","height":"411","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 20.0063037872314px;","title":"The westbound Amtrak Empire builder arrives in town. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum ","width":"1000"}}]]They work 10-hour shifts. While they are busiest between 3 and 7 p.m., those calls include lost dogs, noisy neighbors, a parked car blocked by another. In the middle of the night, the calls are more urgent, more serious, a great deal more sad. I've always wondered what they see when we call. The streets of Fargo and Moorhead are nearly vacant at 3 a.m., but this is only a comparison to a daylight sense of normal. Officer Michael Bloom patrols the city and, if tonight is an average night, his help or correction will be needed 15 times.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844049","attributes":{"alt":"An empty college parking lot. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"512","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;","title":"An empty college parking lot. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]] There are those parts of the night we all know but seldom see. The Amtrak Empire Builder, legendary flagship of the old Great Northern Line, runs from Chicago to Seattle and stops in Fargo every night. Two trains, in fact-one heading west, one heading east. This is Amtrak's busiest long-distance route and the waiting room, which does not open before midnight, is full.
When the train arrives, it's old-world romantic, a rush of speed and chrome, a polite conductor, an old baggage cart that seems rescued from the pony express. Bogart is somewhere nearby. And then there is the deeply invisible. At the Moorhead Water Plant, Daryl Brahos keeps the water safe, the pressure up, the whole city able to turn on a tap as thoughtlessly as breathing. He's been there eight years. In that time, he tells me, he's checked the water quality 17,000 times. More than 2 million gallons move by him every night. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844053","attributes":{"alt":"Daryl Brahos oversees the Moorhead Water Plant in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"667","title":"Daryl Brahos oversees the Moorhead Water Plant in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]] Yet here is the surprise. There is a type of beauty and hope in the middle of a summer night here, like a black-and-white photograph that evokes an unexpected emotion. A different set of details emerges. The interstate is empty. The Island Park pool is still and deeply quiet. Broadway is empty. A parking lot lamppost lights two trees, looking both inviting and lonely, too. And while they are cut from the bridges of Paris, love locks have begun to appear on the interstate pedestrian bridge. It all happens while we sleep.FARGO – Call it an investigation, a mission of discovery, a type of wondering. I've always wondered what this place looks like in the middle of the night. Not just late. Midnight is way too early. Too many places still open, too many people in the normal path of their days. What does this town look like at 3 a.m.? There is only one car in the parking lot at West Acres Shopping Center. A sedan, close to the front doors. There is no way to know if it is abandoned, broken, forgotten or simply waiting. Every other parking space is clear. I drive around the mall. Yes, there are a couple of cars in the outer rim, but only this one in the spaces for customers. One out of 5,000 spaces. One at a mall that sees 7 million people a year. There are no lines at the airport. No waiting for the ticket agent, no shifting left and then right and then left before we take off our shoes, our belts, our jackets, remove our laptops, hold our hands above our heads. The last flight has come, and the passengers have collected their hugs and their baggage. 448,848 people left from this airport last year, 445,578 arrived. In the middle of the night though, the doors are locked. For just a couple of hours, before TSA shows up to begin the preparations for the first flight out, the building is empty and secure.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1843964","attributes":{"alt":"Fargo Police Officer Michael Bloom patrols the streets. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"558","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 20.0063037872314px;","title":"Fargo Police Officer Michael Bloom patrols the streets. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]] It is no surprise that the crowded places are not crowded at night, even though it's unusual to see them that way. But the city is not asleep. A thousand times a day, someone dials 911. When there is an emergency, a need for help, the phone rings at the Red River Regional Dispatch Center. Six people work the phones, computer monitors nearly surrounding each one. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1843978","attributes":{"alt":"The westbound Amtrak Empire builder arrives in town. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum ","class":"media-image","height":"411","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 20.0063037872314px;","title":"The westbound Amtrak Empire builder arrives in town. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum ","width":"1000"}}]]They work 10-hour shifts. While they are busiest between 3 and 7 p.m., those calls include lost dogs, noisy neighbors, a parked car blocked by another. In the middle of the night, the calls are more urgent, more serious, a great deal more sad. I've always wondered what they see when we call. The streets of Fargo and Moorhead are nearly vacant at 3 a.m., but this is only a comparison to a daylight sense of normal. Officer Michael Bloom patrols the city and, if tonight is an average night, his help or correction will be needed 15 times.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844049","attributes":{"alt":"An empty college parking lot. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"512","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;","title":"An empty college parking lot. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]] There are those parts of the night we all know but seldom see. The Amtrak Empire Builder, legendary flagship of the old Great Northern Line, runs from Chicago to Seattle and stops in Fargo every night. Two trains, in fact-one heading west, one heading east. This is Amtrak's busiest long-distance route and the waiting room, which does not open before midnight, is full. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844051","attributes":{"alt":"The security line at Hector International Airport is vacant. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"2808","title":"The security line at Hector International Airport is vacant. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"5649"}}]] When the train arrives, it's old-world romantic, a rush of speed and chrome, a polite conductor, an old baggage cart that seems rescued from the pony express. Bogart is somewhere nearby. And then there is the deeply invisible. At the Moorhead Water Plant, Daryl Brahos keeps the water safe, the pressure up, the whole city able to turn on a tap as thoughtlessly as breathing. He's been there eight years. In that time, he tells me, he's checked the water quality 17,000 times. More than 2 million gallons move by him every night.
Yet here is the surprise. There is a type of beauty and hope in the middle of a summer night here, like a black-and-white photograph that evokes an unexpected emotion. A different set of details emerges. The interstate is empty. The Island Park pool is still and deeply quiet. Broadway is empty. A parking lot lamppost lights two trees, looking both inviting and lonely, too. And while they are cut from the bridges of Paris, love locks have begun to appear on the interstate pedestrian bridge. It all happens while we sleep.FARGO – Call it an investigation, a mission of discovery, a type of wondering. I've always wondered what this place looks like in the middle of the night.Not just late. Midnight is way too early. Too many places still open, too many people in the normal path of their days. What does this town look like at 3 a.m.?There is only one car in the parking lot at West Acres Shopping Center. A sedan, close to the front doors. There is no way to know if it is abandoned, broken, forgotten or simply waiting. Every other parking space is clear.I drive around the mall. Yes, there are a couple of cars in the outer rim, but only this one in the spaces for customers. One out of 5,000 spaces. One at a mall that sees 7 million people a year.There are no lines at the airport. No waiting for the ticket agent, no shifting left and then right and then left before we take off our shoes, our belts, our jackets, remove our laptops, hold our hands above our heads. The last flight has come, and the passengers have collected their hugs and their baggage. 448,848 people left from this airport last year, 445,578 arrived. In the middle of the night though, the doors are locked. For just a couple of hours, before TSA shows up to begin the preparations for the first flight out, the building is empty and secure.
It is no surprise that the crowded places are not crowded at night, even though it's unusual to see them that way.But the city is not asleep. A thousand times a day, someone dials 911. When there is an emergency, a need for help, the phone rings at the Red River Regional Dispatch Center. Six people work the phones, computer monitors nearly surrounding each one. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1843978","attributes":{"alt":"The westbound Amtrak Empire builder arrives in town. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum ","class":"media-image","height":"411","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 20.0063037872314px;","title":"The westbound Amtrak Empire builder arrives in town. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum ","width":"1000"}}]]They work 10-hour shifts. While they are busiest between 3 and 7 p.m., those calls include lost dogs, noisy neighbors, a parked car blocked by another. In the middle of the night, the calls are more urgent, more serious, a great deal more sad. I've always wondered what they see when we call.The streets of Fargo and Moorhead are nearly vacant at 3 a.m., but this is only a comparison to a daylight sense of normal. Officer Michael Bloom patrols the city and, if tonight is an average night, his help or correction will be needed 15 times.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844049","attributes":{"alt":"An empty college parking lot. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"512","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;","title":"An empty college parking lot. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]]There are those parts of the night we all know but seldom see. The Amtrak Empire Builder, legendary flagship of the old Great Northern Line, runs from Chicago to Seattle and stops in Fargo every night. Two trains, in fact-one heading west, one heading east. This is Amtrak's busiest long-distance route and the waiting room, which does not open before midnight, is full.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844051","attributes":{"alt":"The security line at Hector International Airport is vacant. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"2808","title":"The security line at Hector International Airport is vacant. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"5649"}}]]When the train arrives, it's old-world romantic, a rush of speed and chrome, a polite conductor, an old baggage cart that seems rescued from the pony express. Bogart is somewhere nearby.And then there is the deeply invisible. At the Moorhead Water Plant, Daryl Brahos keeps the water safe, the pressure up, the whole city able to turn on a tap as thoughtlessly as breathing. He's been there eight years. In that time, he tells me, he's checked the water quality 17,000 times. More than 2 million gallons move by him every night.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844053","attributes":{"alt":"Daryl Brahos oversees the Moorhead Water Plant in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"667","title":"Daryl Brahos oversees the Moorhead Water Plant in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]]Yet here is the surprise. There is a type of beauty and hope in the middle of a summer night here, like a black-and-white photograph that evokes an unexpected emotion. A different set of details emerges. The interstate is empty. The Island Park pool is still and deeply quiet. Broadway is empty. A parking lot lamppost lights two trees, looking both inviting and lonely, too.And while they are cut from the bridges of Paris, love locks have begun to appear on the interstate pedestrian bridge. It all happens while we sleep.FARGO – Call it an investigation, a mission of discovery, a type of wondering. I've always wondered what this place looks like in the middle of the night.Not just late. Midnight is way too early. Too many places still open, too many people in the normal path of their days. What does this town look like at 3 a.m.?There is only one car in the parking lot at West Acres Shopping Center. A sedan, close to the front doors. There is no way to know if it is abandoned, broken, forgotten or simply waiting. Every other parking space is clear.I drive around the mall. Yes, there are a couple of cars in the outer rim, but only this one in the spaces for customers. One out of 5,000 spaces. One at a mall that sees 7 million people a year.There are no lines at the airport. No waiting for the ticket agent, no shifting left and then right and then left before we take off our shoes, our belts, our jackets, remove our laptops, hold our hands above our heads. The last flight has come, and the passengers have collected their hugs and their baggage. 448,848 people left from this airport last year, 445,578 arrived. In the middle of the night though, the doors are locked. For just a couple of hours, before TSA shows up to begin the preparations for the first flight out, the building is empty and secure.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1843964","attributes":{"alt":"Fargo Police Officer Michael Bloom patrols the streets. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"558","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 20.0063037872314px;","title":"Fargo Police Officer Michael Bloom patrols the streets. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]]It is no surprise that the crowded places are not crowded at night, even though it's unusual to see them that way.But the city is not asleep. A thousand times a day, someone dials 911. When there is an emergency, a need for help, the phone rings at the Red River Regional Dispatch Center. Six people work the phones, computer monitors nearly surrounding each one. 

There's no traffic on Broadway in downtown Fargo in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum
There's no traffic on Broadway in downtown Fargo in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum

They work 10-hour shifts. While they are busiest between 3 and 7 p.m., those calls include lost dogs, noisy neighbors, a parked car blocked by another. In the middle of the night, the calls are more urgent, more serious, a great deal more sad. I've always wondered what they see when we call.The streets of Fargo and Moorhead are nearly vacant at 3 a.m., but this is only a comparison to a daylight sense of normal. Officer Michael Bloom patrols the city and, if tonight is an average night, his help or correction will be needed 15 times.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844049","attributes":{"alt":"An empty college parking lot. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"512","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;","title":"An empty college parking lot. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]]There are those parts of the night we all know but seldom see. The Amtrak Empire Builder, legendary flagship of the old Great Northern Line, runs from Chicago to Seattle and stops in Fargo every night. Two trains, in fact-one heading west, one heading east. This is Amtrak's busiest long-distance route and the waiting room, which does not open before midnight, is full.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844051","attributes":{"alt":"The security line at Hector International Airport is vacant. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"2808","title":"The security line at Hector International Airport is vacant. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"5649"}}]]When the train arrives, it's old-world romantic, a rush of speed and chrome, a polite conductor, an old baggage cart that seems rescued from the pony express. Bogart is somewhere nearby.And then there is the deeply invisible. At the Moorhead Water Plant, Daryl Brahos keeps the water safe, the pressure up, the whole city able to turn on a tap as thoughtlessly as breathing. He's been there eight years. In that time, he tells me, he's checked the water quality 17,000 times. More than 2 million gallons move by him every night.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844053","attributes":{"alt":"Daryl Brahos oversees the Moorhead Water Plant in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"667","title":"Daryl Brahos oversees the Moorhead Water Plant in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]]Yet here is the surprise. There is a type of beauty and hope in the middle of a summer night here, like a black-and-white photograph that evokes an unexpected emotion. A different set of details emerges. The interstate is empty. The Island Park pool is still and deeply quiet. Broadway is empty. A parking lot lamppost lights two trees, looking both inviting and lonely, too.And while they are cut from the bridges of Paris, love locks have begun to appear on the interstate pedestrian bridge. It all happens while we sleep.FARGO – Call it an investigation, a mission of discovery, a type of wondering. I've always wondered what this place looks like in the middle of the night.Not just late. Midnight is way too early. Too many places still open, too many people in the normal path of their days. What does this town look like at 3 a.m.?There is only one car in the parking lot at West Acres Shopping Center. A sedan, close to the front doors. There is no way to know if it is abandoned, broken, forgotten or simply waiting. Every other parking space is clear.I drive around the mall. Yes, there are a couple of cars in the outer rim, but only this one in the spaces for customers. One out of 5,000 spaces. One at a mall that sees 7 million people a year.There are no lines at the airport. No waiting for the ticket agent, no shifting left and then right and then left before we take off our shoes, our belts, our jackets, remove our laptops, hold our hands above our heads. The last flight has come, and the passengers have collected their hugs and their baggage. 448,848 people left from this airport last year, 445,578 arrived. In the middle of the night though, the doors are locked. For just a couple of hours, before TSA shows up to begin the preparations for the first flight out, the building is empty and secure.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1843964","attributes":{"alt":"Fargo Police Officer Michael Bloom patrols the streets. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"558","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 20.0063037872314px;","title":"Fargo Police Officer Michael Bloom patrols the streets. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]]It is no surprise that the crowded places are not crowded at night, even though it's unusual to see them that way.But the city is not asleep. A thousand times a day, someone dials 911. When there is an emergency, a need for help, the phone rings at the Red River Regional Dispatch Center. Six people work the phones, computer monitors nearly surrounding each one. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1843978","attributes":{"alt":"The westbound Amtrak Empire builder arrives in town. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum ","class":"media-image","height":"411","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 20.0063037872314px;","title":"The westbound Amtrak Empire builder arrives in town. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum ","width":"1000"}}]]They work 10-hour shifts. While they are busiest between 3 and 7 p.m., those calls include lost dogs, noisy neighbors, a parked car blocked by another. In the middle of the night, the calls are more urgent, more serious, a great deal more sad. I've always wondered what they see when we call.The streets of Fargo and Moorhead are nearly vacant at 3 a.m., but this is only a comparison to a daylight sense of normal. Officer Michael Bloom patrols the city and, if tonight is an average night, his help or correction will be needed 15 times.

There's no traffic on Broadway in downtown Fargo in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum
There's no traffic on Broadway in downtown Fargo in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum

There are those parts of the night we all know but seldom see. The Amtrak Empire Builder, legendary flagship of the old Great Northern Line, runs from Chicago to Seattle and stops in Fargo every night. Two trains, in fact-one heading west, one heading east. This is Amtrak's busiest long-distance route and the waiting room, which does not open before midnight, is full.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844051","attributes":{"alt":"The security line at Hector International Airport is vacant. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"2808","title":"The security line at Hector International Airport is vacant. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"5649"}}]]When the train arrives, it's old-world romantic, a rush of speed and chrome, a polite conductor, an old baggage cart that seems rescued from the pony express. Bogart is somewhere nearby.And then there is the deeply invisible. At the Moorhead Water Plant, Daryl Brahos keeps the water safe, the pressure up, the whole city able to turn on a tap as thoughtlessly as breathing. He's been there eight years. In that time, he tells me, he's checked the water quality 17,000 times. More than 2 million gallons move by him every night.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844053","attributes":{"alt":"Daryl Brahos oversees the Moorhead Water Plant in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"667","title":"Daryl Brahos oversees the Moorhead Water Plant in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]]Yet here is the surprise. There is a type of beauty and hope in the middle of a summer night here, like a black-and-white photograph that evokes an unexpected emotion. A different set of details emerges. The interstate is empty. The Island Park pool is still and deeply quiet. Broadway is empty. A parking lot lamppost lights two trees, looking both inviting and lonely, too.And while they are cut from the bridges of Paris, love locks have begun to appear on the interstate pedestrian bridge. It all happens while we sleep.FARGO – Call it an investigation, a mission of discovery, a type of wondering. I've always wondered what this place looks like in the middle of the night.Not just late. Midnight is way too early. Too many places still open, too many people in the normal path of their days. What does this town look like at 3 a.m.?There is only one car in the parking lot at West Acres Shopping Center. A sedan, close to the front doors. There is no way to know if it is abandoned, broken, forgotten or simply waiting. Every other parking space is clear.I drive around the mall. Yes, there are a couple of cars in the outer rim, but only this one in the spaces for customers. One out of 5,000 spaces. One at a mall that sees 7 million people a year.There are no lines at the airport. No waiting for the ticket agent, no shifting left and then right and then left before we take off our shoes, our belts, our jackets, remove our laptops, hold our hands above our heads. The last flight has come, and the passengers have collected their hugs and their baggage. 448,848 people left from this airport last year, 445,578 arrived. In the middle of the night though, the doors are locked. For just a couple of hours, before TSA shows up to begin the preparations for the first flight out, the building is empty and secure.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1843964","attributes":{"alt":"Fargo Police Officer Michael Bloom patrols the streets. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"558","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 20.0063037872314px;","title":"Fargo Police Officer Michael Bloom patrols the streets. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]]It is no surprise that the crowded places are not crowded at night, even though it's unusual to see them that way.But the city is not asleep. A thousand times a day, someone dials 911. When there is an emergency, a need for help, the phone rings at the Red River Regional Dispatch Center. Six people work the phones, computer monitors nearly surrounding each one. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1843978","attributes":{"alt":"The westbound Amtrak Empire builder arrives in town. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum ","class":"media-image","height":"411","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 20.0063037872314px;","title":"The westbound Amtrak Empire builder arrives in town. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum ","width":"1000"}}]]They work 10-hour shifts. While they are busiest between 3 and 7 p.m., those calls include lost dogs, noisy neighbors, a parked car blocked by another. In the middle of the night, the calls are more urgent, more serious, a great deal more sad. I've always wondered what they see when we call.The streets of Fargo and Moorhead are nearly vacant at 3 a.m., but this is only a comparison to a daylight sense of normal. Officer Michael Bloom patrols the city and, if tonight is an average night, his help or correction will be needed 15 times.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844049","attributes":{"alt":"An empty college parking lot. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"512","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;","title":"An empty college parking lot. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]]There are those parts of the night we all know but seldom see. The Amtrak Empire Builder, legendary flagship of the old Great Northern Line, runs from Chicago to Seattle and stops in Fargo every night. Two trains, in fact-one heading west, one heading east. This is Amtrak's busiest long-distance route and the waiting room, which does not open before midnight, is full.
When the train arrives, it's old-world romantic, a rush of speed and chrome, a polite conductor, an old baggage cart that seems rescued from the pony express. Bogart is somewhere nearby.And then there is the deeply invisible. At the Moorhead Water Plant, Daryl Brahos keeps the water safe, the pressure up, the whole city able to turn on a tap as thoughtlessly as breathing. He's been there eight years. In that time, he tells me, he's checked the water quality 17,000 times. More than 2 million gallons move by him every night.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844053","attributes":{"alt":"Daryl Brahos oversees the Moorhead Water Plant in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"667","title":"Daryl Brahos oversees the Moorhead Water Plant in the middle of the night. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]]Yet here is the surprise. There is a type of beauty and hope in the middle of a summer night here, like a black-and-white photograph that evokes an unexpected emotion. A different set of details emerges. The interstate is empty. The Island Park pool is still and deeply quiet. Broadway is empty. A parking lot lamppost lights two trees, looking both inviting and lonely, too.And while they are cut from the bridges of Paris, love locks have begun to appear on the interstate pedestrian bridge. It all happens while we sleep.FARGO – Call it an investigation, a mission of discovery, a type of wondering. I've always wondered what this place looks like in the middle of the night.Not just late. Midnight is way too early. Too many places still open, too many people in the normal path of their days. What does this town look like at 3 a.m.?There is only one car in the parking lot at West Acres Shopping Center. A sedan, close to the front doors. There is no way to know if it is abandoned, broken, forgotten or simply waiting. Every other parking space is clear.I drive around the mall. Yes, there are a couple of cars in the outer rim, but only this one in the spaces for customers. One out of 5,000 spaces. One at a mall that sees 7 million people a year.There are no lines at the airport. No waiting for the ticket agent, no shifting left and then right and then left before we take off our shoes, our belts, our jackets, remove our laptops, hold our hands above our heads. The last flight has come, and the passengers have collected their hugs and their baggage. 448,848 people left from this airport last year, 445,578 arrived. In the middle of the night though, the doors are locked. For just a couple of hours, before TSA shows up to begin the preparations for the first flight out, the building is empty and secure.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1843964","attributes":{"alt":"Fargo Police Officer Michael Bloom patrols the streets. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"558","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 20.0063037872314px;","title":"Fargo Police Officer Michael Bloom patrols the streets. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]]It is no surprise that the crowded places are not crowded at night, even though it's unusual to see them that way.But the city is not asleep. A thousand times a day, someone dials 911. When there is an emergency, a need for help, the phone rings at the Red River Regional Dispatch Center. Six people work the phones, computer monitors nearly surrounding each one. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1843978","attributes":{"alt":"The westbound Amtrak Empire builder arrives in town. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum ","class":"media-image","height":"411","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 20.0063037872314px;","title":"The westbound Amtrak Empire builder arrives in town. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum ","width":"1000"}}]]They work 10-hour shifts. While they are busiest between 3 and 7 p.m., those calls include lost dogs, noisy neighbors, a parked car blocked by another. In the middle of the night, the calls are more urgent, more serious, a great deal more sad. I've always wondered what they see when we call.The streets of Fargo and Moorhead are nearly vacant at 3 a.m., but this is only a comparison to a daylight sense of normal. Officer Michael Bloom patrols the city and, if tonight is an average night, his help or correction will be needed 15 times.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844049","attributes":{"alt":"An empty college parking lot. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"512","style":"font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;","title":"An empty college parking lot. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"1000"}}]]There are those parts of the night we all know but seldom see. The Amtrak Empire Builder, legendary flagship of the old Great Northern Line, runs from Chicago to Seattle and stops in Fargo every night. Two trains, in fact-one heading west, one heading east. This is Amtrak's busiest long-distance route and the waiting room, which does not open before midnight, is full.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1844051","attributes":{"alt":"The security line at Hector International Airport is vacant. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"2808","title":"The security line at Hector International Airport is vacant. Photo by W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum","width":"5649"}}]]When the train arrives, it's old-world romantic, a rush of speed and chrome, a polite conductor, an old baggage cart that seems rescued from the pony express. Bogart is somewhere nearby.And then there is the deeply invisible. At the Moorhead Water Plant, Daryl Brahos keeps the water safe, the pressure up, the whole city able to turn on a tap as thoughtlessly as breathing. He's been there eight years. In that time, he tells me, he's checked the water quality 17,000 times. More than 2 million gallons move by him every night.
Yet here is the surprise. There is a type of beauty and hope in the middle of a summer night here, like a black-and-white photograph that evokes an unexpected emotion. A different set of details emerges. The interstate is empty. The Island Park pool is still and deeply quiet. Broadway is empty. A parking lot lamppost lights two trees, looking both inviting and lonely, too.And while they are cut from the bridges of Paris, love locks have begun to appear on the interstate pedestrian bridge. It all happens while we sleep.

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