Our Big Trip Across the Western US - September 2015
Our Saturday morning began with our departure from Medora, ND. The hotel, Rough Riders Hotel, arranged for breakfast at a local restaurant but service began 30 minutes after our desired departure time, so we made coffee in the room and ate another packaged cinnamon roll in the car. The drive across North Dakota reminded us of Iowa, except that the crops were grown in fields so large that they vanished at the skyline on either side of the road. We saw a variety of crops including sunflowers that are all very near the end of their season with the heads dropped over and devoid of any yellow petals. We decided that since the day would be shorter so we stopped in Fargo, ND, our first time to visit this city. This is the visitor’s center near the interstate and is built to look like a grain elevator.
Inside the front door is a prop from the movie, “Fargo” and in case you missed the movie it is a wood chipper and yes that is a foot sticking out the top. In this movie one of the bad guys used the chipper to dispose of his partner in crime. This prop is the original used in the movie and is autographed by the screen writers.
Outdoors around a grassy area across the street from the center is the Fargo Walk of Fame. This was started in the early 1980’s in the downtown area. When they ran out of room for this interesting display of entertainers and politicians it was moved to this location. We walked around to see all the stars and took pictures of a few we found interesting. The first person to be inducted to this Walk of Fame was Al Hirt and of all the concrete blocks on display his seems to have held up the best. Some are so cracked that they may not last another winter.
Across the parking area from the visitor’s center is the Multiband Tower, an executive office building. We are not advertising for them but the interesting shape and color caught our eye. It is an unusual building for a city this size (113,000 people) in the Midwest.
One travel guide mentioned the restored Fargo Theater so we drove to the downtown area to see it. This theater was constructed in 1926 and every attempt was made to keep the original Art Deco style. We were unable to see in the theater as they were playing a movie but were invited to look at the mezzanine above the lobby.
The mezzanine had a beautiful old Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ and their website lists it as one of the operating instruments that can be rented for use in the theater. There is also old projector on display. Everything in this lobby and mezzanine looked the part of the 1920’s and 30’s.
We had not considered that this is a college town and on a Saturday there was a real hustle and bustle of people so we didn’t do much more than stop for a couple pictures of the old train depots in town. This is the old Great Northern Railroad depot and is now the home of a bicycle shop. The shop has a website but fails to mention the historic structure they occupy. It seems that bikes are their only interest. But we found the building amazing and in great shape.
When we drove into the downtown area we had noticed this next depot and knew we’d need to stop for a picture before leaving. This was the Burlington Northern Railroad Depot built in 1898. A sign mentioned that with declining ridership on trains in the middle 1960’s this depot was in danger of being torn down. Luckily forward thinking local people worked to save it and it is now the home of the senior center and the parks department for the city. What a fantastic structure and a great community that saved a real asset instead of letting it fall to the wrecking ball.
The remainder of our drive was uneventful as we headed south on I-29. The south wind that had buffeted us all day now was a headwind and our mileage dropped way below the nearly 30 MPG we had through most of the trip. We have been to Watertown before so did not take time to visit any sites here. We depart here tomorrow for a short drive to Estherville. We do plan on stopping at the Pipestone National Monument. We visited this many years ago as a cub scout outing but Sandy was so sick with a migraine headache that she saw nothing but the car while the scouts toured the site. We are hopeful that we will see some actual pipestone carving demonstrations as promised on the monuments website. We will be so happy to be in the apartment in Estherville tomorrow night and will have a final update of our day.
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