When was North Dakota Highway 46 paved? That question came up last year about this road, which runs from Interstate 29 south of Fargo to west of Gackle, N.D.
Someone wrote Neighbors he thought it was paved before 1964. Well, he was partially right. Because much of it was.
Thanks to notes from Forum readers, here's the story of the completion of the paving of 46, along with information about other state highways and, would you believe, a romantic story with a Highway 46 connection.
First of all, here's a note from Ralph Winge, a former state legislator from Litchville, N.D., and now of Valley City, N.D., who writes that there was no paving on 46 from North Dakota Highway 1 west to U.S. Highway 281 until 1964, which completed the highway's paving. Ralph is the legislator who pushed that project through.
Two others have written about this.
Paul Owens, Frontier, N.D., says his parents bought a farm on Highway 46 in 1947. The highway was all gravel then, but was largely paved around 1953 or 1954. His family lived along 46, about 1 ½ miles west of I-29.
Sylvan Loegering, West Fargo, writes that he taught high school at Litchville, just off 46, from 1958 to 1961.
"During the winter of 1959-1960," Sylvan writes, "I was commuting on weekends to Fargo for dates with Margaret Hovel, who originally was from Cooperstown. N.D.
"One weekend we had a terrible ice storm, and I decided it would be less slippery to take graveled Highway 46 west instead of Highway 10 (which now is I-94). But the gravel was just as slippery!
"As I drove up the winding road climbing out of the Sheyenne River Valley, my car spun out and I ended up crosswise in the road, and it was about 2 a.m.
"Through creative use of a bumper jack, I lifted one end of the car and tipped the jack sideways several times to get the car pointed downhill. I could then drive back down, turn around and get a run at the west side.
"All the while, I hoped nobody would come over the top of the hill. But fortunately, my car was the only one on the road.
"I got to Litchville in time to teach the next day."
Sylvan says he had exposure to other state highways in that era, also.
"I went to Brampton High School in Sargent County," he writes, "and sometimes got to BIG towns like Cogswell, Forman, Lisbon and Oakes (all North Dakota). I even got to Fargo twice before I graduated from high school in 1955.
"Here is what I remember: Highway 11 was gravel. Highway 13 was gravel west of Gwinner, N.D. Highway 32 was gravel from South Dakota at least to Highway 46.
"Getting around the state was considerably different 60 years ago," he aptly says.
One more thing. You will recall that Sylvan used to hit Highway 46 to get to Fargo to date a young gal named Margaret, even braving bad winter weather and roads to do so.
Well, those risky trips paid off.
Sylvan and Margaret will celebrate their 57th wedding anniversary in August.
If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 241-5487 or email email@example.com.