Aug 14 2009

Curlew, ND

Sims may be a ghost town, but Curlew is a mystery to me.  Sims at least has a website and some articles bringing it to life, but I haven’t found anything on the Internet about Curlew other than on maps.  And so I wonder:  Was Curlew a town, or just a township or school district name?  Was this sign from a cemetery, or was it erected especially to remember this locale?  What was Curlew like at its height?

Curlew ND

Curlew is several miles west of Almont, ND. Almont is just south of Sims.  How many other towns in this area are gone and possibly forgotten?

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13 comments so far

13 Comments to “Curlew, ND”

  1. minnemom on 14 Aug 2009 at 6:29 am

    After I had this post written, I heard from Annika Nelson, who commented on my Sims post. Annika grew up on a farm just outside of Sims, and has patiently answered my questions about the now-gone town.

    I asked if she happened to know anything about Curlew, and, as luck would have it, she did:

    As for Curlew, that’s where my grandpa grew up! He wrote a small article for the Almont History Book and he titled it “Lying in the Shadow of the Three Buttes.” The place where you took the picture of the Curlew sign is right across from what everyone calls the “Three Buttes.” Curlew was the name given to a railroad station, and the name was chosen because of the long-billed bird, known as the Curlew, which was a summer resident of that area. The depot and section house were built in 1879 when the Northern Pacific laid tracks west of Mandan. Although it was primarily a railroad location, it was a community at one time. My great-grandpa was the Section man, in charge of the section house and depot.

    Of course, as you can see, there is no longer any activity around Curlew. But my grandpa always told of fun stories climbing up the “Three Buttes” and getting into some trouble! :)

    Thanks, Annika, for sharing this information with me.

  2. Tim on 14 Aug 2009 at 8:07 am

    Great mystery shot. Glad you were able to find out a bit more about Curlew. Sounds like there might be more to the story yet. We definitely need to get back to ND

  3. Amy @ The Q Family on 14 Aug 2009 at 8:39 am

    The wonder of internet! How neat to be able to find out about the history of your mysterious town from someone who really knows the place.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Cate on 14 Aug 2009 at 12:36 pm

    That is interesting indeed. I like stories like these even more when the gaps get filled in with someone’s personal story. Very nice post and photo.

  5. Dominique on 14 Aug 2009 at 9:58 pm

    You never know what you’ll learn online! Great that Annika could help fill in the gaps in the story :)

  6. Bridget Smith on 14 Aug 2009 at 10:04 pm

    A beautiful sign and a beautiful story. Your curiosity makes everything on your blog come alive Linda. Great job!

  7. marina k. villatoro on 14 Aug 2009 at 10:19 pm

    wow, I can’t believe you found some people who grew up in that ghost town.

    There are no dead towns here, on the contrary new ones are coming up daily and the older ones are being revived!

  8. Mara on 15 Aug 2009 at 3:25 pm

    I love the story behind the photo almost more than the photo itself! What a fantastic name.

    As you know, my child thinks that unicorns roam the “woods of North Dakota.” I’ll have to tell him that they are galloping to the trills of curlews!

  9. [...] north of Sims and not too far from Curlew stands what’s left of North Almont, [...]

  10. [...] now you’ve seen my entries on Sims, Curlew, North Almont, and Glen Ullin, North Dakota.  These towns made a definite impression on my during [...]

  11. [...] Glen Ullin is faring better than its gone-but-not-forgotten neighbors of Sims, North Almont, and Curlew.  Several businesses line its main street, and there’s a still hustle and bustle in [...]

  12. Linda M. Mainquist on 08 Jul 2010 at 7:43 pm

    I am the daughter of Helen Hoeger Mainquist, the daughter of William Fritz Hoeger. My was born on the family farm near Almont. She nearly eighty-eight years old.

    As mentioned above, Curlew had a railroad office. It had a restaurant for the section crew who maintained the railroad. My mother said the crew traveled on a special railroad car, but she couldn’t describe it.

    The Curlew country school was located a distance from the railroad office. If Harvey Thorson is still alive, he would be the one to talk to about the school. If no Almonters are interested, I would be willing to do a telephone interview and write something. I live in St. Paul.

    My grandfather attended the Curlew school. One winter, a blinding blizzard suddenly blew in during school. With no trees to stop the wind, the storm would have been furious.

    My grandfather had ridden his horse seven miles to school from his home on the Muddy Creek. The teacher decided that she and the students would tie a rope to the horse. The teacher and the students clung to the rope and the horse led them to the home of the nearest neighbor. My guess is the rope that hung from the bell in the belfry was used because long ropes are not customary for country schools.

    My mother didn’t know how the horse knew the way. The horse was considered heroic, as was my grandfather.

    The drinking water was brought to the school because there wasn’t running water. One time the horse drank all the drinking water. If this occurred after the storm, the horse was certain to be forgiven.

    I attended a country school without running water. The water in the crock was strictly for drinking, and we didn’t wash our hands after we went to the outhouse. We had white paper cone cups for the water that came out of the crock faucet. The Curlew students most likely shared a dipper.

  13. Linda M. Mainquist on 15 Nov 2011 at 12:35 am

    Between the first and second line of my entry, I didn’t write the word, “mother.”

    Henry Thorson is dead.

    Thank you to Annika. Her entry is one a historian would be pleased to discover.

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