Thursday, July 13, 2017

Minot, North Dakota

July 7 - 10, 2017:

It was another short hop today of about 70 miles from the Downstream Campground in Riverdale, ND to Minot, ND.  It was almost all route 83 north with a quick detour into the small farming town of Max for me to explore.  The farm fields were beautiful, especially those covered in the bright yellow Canola and the blueish flax.


The Max Cafe in Max, North Dakota

Where they have Cossack Pride

We have a reserved campsite today at the Roughrider RV Park on the outskirts of Minot, ND.  I need to stop pronouncing Minot like it should be pronounced as a french word, in North Dakota they go out of their way to pronounce things differently.  They say “Mi Not” and the best way to remember it is to think of “why not”  and then say Minot the same way.  In fact they have an upcoming festival here called the “Why not in Minot” festival.

Minot is in the process pf completely resurfacing a number of the old downtown business district streets and sidewalks.  I see signs on downtown storefronts referring to it as the renaissance.   I find it a very cool downtown area with many old buildings, mixed with old factory buildings being converted to stores, offices, restaurants, bars and cafes.  The newer “miracle mile” district has about every chain store, restaurant and service business you could need.  Minot is the 4th largest city in North Dakota with 40% of its residents of Scandinavian descent. They have a Scandinavian Heritage Park and hold the “Norsk Hostfest”, the largest Scandinavian-American festival in North America.  They also are the home of  the North Dakota State Fair.


The Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot

Of course Leif Ericson was there

Father of modern Skiing Sondre Norheim

A beautiful replica Stave Church from Gol, Norway

Interior is all raw wood, quite amazing


I had a great breakfast at Charlie’s Main Street Cafe on Saturday morning, best breakfast all year, highly recommended.  I then did my usual walking tour of the downtown area and stopped in at the Railroad museum.  Minot exists only because of the Great Northern Railroad which on its push to the west coast stopped for the winter here in 1886.  A town sprang up virtually overnight at the railroad workers campsite which received the moniker of “The Magic City”.  It was determined by the Northern Pacific Railways chief, James J. Hill (the Empire Builder) to be a good site for a town and railroad shop.  The town was named for Henry D. Minot, a railroad investor and friend of Hills.  The city was incorporated in 1889 and became a division point with a huge railroad shop and yard complex. 


The Charles Main Street Cafe is added to my favorites list

Downtown  Minot view with the great Main Street Books

Wonderful First National Bank building

Always a place for some street art

Magic Alley

Another downtown view

Of course, huge grain Elevators are all around town

The old Great Northern Railroad shop is now gone, but the original Depot remains and is still utilized by Amtrak for passenger service on the “Empire Builder” route between Chicago to Seattle.  The Depot had been altered extensively in the early 1970’s and a huge amount of money was then spent in 2008-2009 to restore it back to near original condition.


The restored Depot still in use by Amtrak 

Interior is restores but upgraded to meet current standards

The Great Northern Railroad Museum

Two Cabooses outside

Those were the days !

The Soo Line on its route from Valley City to Canada also came through Minot in 1912 and built a wonderful railroad depot in downtown.  This building remains, has been restored and is now the “Old Soo Depot Transportation Museum”, unfortunately it was closed.  The Soo Line once serviced the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad which is now part of the Canadian Pacific Railroad.


Considered one of the best Soo Line Depots

Today BSNF operates frequent freight trains through Minot with a rail yard and shop facility, but the old Great Northern Railroad buildings, roundhouse and turntable are all gone.  A few miles outside of Minot is the Gassman Coulee Trestle originally built in 1887.  In 1898 it was replaced by a new steel trestle that remains in service today and is as impressive as ever.



The Gassman Coulee Trestle

I’ve been trying to get to a good mid-west stock car dirt track race for a while now with no luck.  It finally materialized for me this Sunday evening in Minot at their Nacoda Speedway at the fairgrounds.  It was a special sanctioned IMCA event with a huge field of super stock and modified cars.  There were about 20 preliminary heat races to finalize the field for the finals.  I stayed for the super stock 30 lap final which had 28 cars, that’s makes for a very crowded 3/8 mile racetrack.  The dust was pretty bad in the grandstands in spite of them spraying the track with water after every race, but I suppose that adds to the atmosphere.  There were many Canadian racers in this event, enough that they played both the US and the Canadian National Anthem In the pre race ceremonies.



The Super Stocks sliding through the corners

Followed by the Modified racers

It looks like they are going to wreck, but they slide sideways
around the corners with only minimal contact

Except when they get really bunched up like this and then they
seem just to rub and bump their way around

The final Super Stock race was very tight

We visited Roosevelt Park in Minot, (Theodore Roosevelt is like God in ND) which is a very nice park with a pool and water slide complex, a train ride that doesn’t appear to be functional now, a very confusing River Loop hiking trail and well maintained grounds.  The “Magic Express Train” is a 2/5 scale replica of Great Northern locomotive # 1177 that pulls four cars around a one mile loop track in the park.


Twinkles walking the track, it looks like a real Railroad

These ducks were in a heavily algae covered pond bordering the Park
but they didn't seem to mind at all

Statue of Theodore Roosevelt in the park

Twinkles and I go to lunch at Charlie’s where I have the hot roast beef sandwich, which has been awarded the best hot roast beef sandwich in North Dakota.  I don’t actually remember eating a better one, so I have to agree.

I surveyed a few of the local bars and find that Minot has a fairly good night life potential, (wish I still did).  The Souris River Brewery has much live music during the week , but was unfortunately closed, (can you believe they take a summer break ?).  The Pour House nearby had a duo performing that was interesting and Ebenezer's Eatery and Irish Pub had a blues band playing.  Possibly the coolest bar in town though was the "Blue Rider" or the "Grain Belt Beer" (not sure about the bar name).  It's a great old building that appears to have just reopened after a renovation.  There was a hipster college crowd there with a DJ attempting to be creative, but actually pretty dreadful sounding.


I looks more like it should be the Blue Rider

The Starving Rooster is a favorite bar and eatery, but no music


Next stop is Icelandic State Park in Cavalier, North Dakota,
Twinkles and Slick

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