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"History Comes to Life on the Talking Trail..."

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Nelson County North Dakota

Nelson County North Dakota

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When the railroad came to Michigan, North Dakota, excitement, promise, and growth were evident in the community...

Michigan Train Wreck - Nelson County
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In the heart of Lakota, stands the Tofthagen Library and Museum.  A.M Tofthagen was born in Hundorp, Norway in 1888.  Like many Norwegians, he immigrated to North Dakota

A.M. Tofthagen Museum and Library - Nelson County
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Originally formed by glaciation, Stump Lake, as we know it today, began nearly 500 years ago when a great flood occurred in the valley of Wamduska Township...

Stump Lake - Nelson County
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Generally speaking, life in Nelson County in the 1920s was relatively quiet.  An early morning bank robbery on June 22, 1922 shattered the serenity of the small community of Michigan, North Dakota. 

Michigan Mini Mall - Nelson County
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The homestead opportunities of the late 1880s brought an influx of Norwegian immigrants to Nelson County.  With the promise of their very own land, many families made the taxing trip to North Dakota...

Log Cabin - Nelson County
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It is no secret that winters in North Dakota can be brutal, but did you know how beautiful they can be as well?  Seeing the rolling snowdrifts that blanket the landscape of Nelson County...

Snowmobile History - Nelson County
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One-room schoolhouses were once a common feature of the Great Plains, dotting the countryside and providing rural children a basic education...

Wamduska Square Schoolhouse - Talking Trail
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The wooded shores of Stump Lake have been used for community and family outings since the earliest Pioneer days. On December 23rd, 1919, the Old Settlers' Association...

Stump Lake Pavilion - Talking Trail
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Manville Arthur Johnson began his career as a handyman at the Michigan Mercantile Store in 1907.  Through skill and ambition, he rose to become the principal owner...

Johhnson Store - Talking Trail
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The Fort Totten Trail is an overland route that was used first by Indians and also by settlers moving with their wagons across the North Dakota prairie. It went about four miles south of Petersburg to a hotel...

Historical Trail - Talking Trail

Harvey and Maritt Aamot Barr called this farmhouse home.  Built in 1915, the Barr house was considered large for its day, with one bedroom on the main floor and four bedrooms upstairs, perfect for their family...

Cook Car - Talking Trail
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In the late 1800s, the existence of small towns on the prairie largely depended on the railroad.  A railroad through town would, in many cases, make or break a tiny prairie town...

Depot - Talking Trail
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Walking into the Main Street Museum transports you back in time to a dusty street surrounded by the hustle and bustle of an old prairie town.  Each shop depicted in...

SLHV Main Street Museum - Talking Trail

Progress and innovation brings change, often seen in machines and implements used everyday.  Tractors, firefighting equipment, snowmobiles, tools, and grain cleaning...

Machinery and Engine Building - Talking Trail

Frontier communities depended on certain trades to support and maintain their livelihood.  Blacksmith shops, sawmills, and flour mills were critical to homesteaders...

Sawmill/Flourmill/Blacksmith Shop - Talking Trail
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It had been nearly fifty years since a bank robbery was reported in Nelson County.  And if one robbery wasn’t enough to rattle their quiet corner of the Upper Midwest...

Prairie Posse Gazeebo - Talking Trail
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As new towns arose across North Dakota, the responsibility for naming them generally fell on the person that established them.  Many early settlements were named for the town founder...

Petersburg Namesake - Talking Trail
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Banks aren’t the only businesses that have been robbed in Nelson County, though, for the most part, robberies had quieted down since the 1980s when the famed Prairie Posse...

Whitetail Robbery - Talking Trail
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The pride of Petersburg, North Dakota was the Opera House, this one with a compelling beginning.  The building, originally a schoolhouse, was built in 1896.  By 1904, the number of students

Opera House - Talking Trail

In the late 1880s, the railroad was often the lifeline for young towns on the Northern Plains.  Communities depended on it, not only as a means of transportation, but because of...

Wamduska Hotel - Talking Trail

Nelson County is a land of gently rolling wheat fields and boundless recreation opportunities!


Nelson County was founded in the spring of 1883 at the Territorial Legislature in Grand Forks, ND.  It is comprised of approximately 982 square miles and is situated in the Northeast part of North Dakota. Cities in Nelson County include: Aneta, Lakota, McVille, Michigan, Pekin, Petersburg and Tolna.  There are also several Town Sites and Villages in the County including:  Dahlen, Kloten, Mapes, and Whitman.  These communities were formed when the Burlington Northern and Sioux Railroads became established in the County.  Lakota is the Official County Seat of Nelson County.

For recreation, Nelson County has ample opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast!  Stump Lake is a local attraction for fishing and hunting along with other areas such as Lake Laretta, McVille Dam, Tolna Dam and Whitman Dam.  

Come explore all of the rich history along the Nelson County Talking Trail!

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