Lansford History

by Margaret Undlin & Colleen Carlson

Locals believe the date of the founding of their community was 1902 and that its original name was Gordon, but the state already had a town by that name.  In 1903 the Great Northern Railroad built their Granville-Mohall branch line through the area.  That year Arne Roen and Martin Olson sold part of their homesteads for a town site which was platted under the ownership of Fred H. Stoltze, of St. Paul, Minnesota, a town site developer for the railroad.  Martin is said to have reserved the right to name the site when he sold his land.  Apparently he proposed several names, but Lansford was chosen, after his home town of Lansfjord, Norway.

A post office named Bjelland was established in October 1901 some three miles southeast of Lansford.  Mail was brought from Minot by people who went there for supplies.  After the new town of Lansford was established the office was closed and mail went to the Lansford post office, established in July 1903 with Clarance C. Banks as postmaster.

Two years after the Great Northern completed its project the Soo Line, called the Wheat Line, constructed its tracks on the northern edge of town and established its station of Lansford.

In 1903 the Golden Sheaf, a weekly newspaper began publishing; later its name was changed to the Lansford Journal and then to the Lansford Leader.

Throughout its history Lansford has provided for the education of its children.  A two-room school house was constructed in 1903, followed by a four-room brick building in 1908.  I 1912 the high school was added; the old structure was razed in 1959 and replaced by a modern new school.

The first telephone service came to Lansford in 1905.  The next year the Farmer Telephone Association was organized.  The town's volunteer fire department was organized in 1907 and in 1909 the city used newly discovered natural gas to light the town.  Unfortunately, the supply ran out in a couple of years.  In 1914 the Lansford Light Plant was built, giving the city electric lights.

Lansford was a booming city in its first few years, having seven elevators and a flour mill which was destroyed by fire in 1931.  It was a $45,000 loss to the community.  The city also boasted of two banks, three hotels, seven stores, three meat markets, two confectioneries, and three lumber yards.  Medical services were sporadic in the early years, but the city had a dentist and by 1910 it had a hospital.  The hospital, Dr. J. L. Devine was the physician and surgeon, closed after four years.  The community was also served by a veterinarian.

There were four restaurants in the city and three implement dealerships selling McCormick and Rock Island machinery.  One of the city's three blacksmiths, George Baggenstoss came in 1912 and retired in 1954.  Edward Haroldson, an attorney came in 1903 and retired in 1950.

The city dray lines were very important as was the livery barns.  During the day it was common to see twenty to thirty teams lined up to unload lumber and supplies.  Travel in the early days was done by stage, livery, bicycle, or walking.

The city also boasted of: tailor shops, dressmakers, photograph galleries, jewelers, barbers, bakeries, a steam laundry, painters and decorators, harness makers, shoe repairmen, dancing classes, and vocal and instrumental instruction.

Lansford had its own city band and orchestra which entertained in the Dammann Opera House.  Dances were held there and silent movies were also shown there.  Later a city auditorium was built and movies were shown there every weekend; dances were held on Friday nights.  A bowling alley operated from 1906 to 1918.

Garages were opened in 1910, selling a variety of automobiles: Northern, Overland, Ford, Buick, Maxwell, Reo, Studebaker, Oakland Six, Pullman, Saxon, Allan 37 and the Chambers.

The following churches were constructed in Lansford: Presbyterian, 1903; Methodist Episcopal, 1905; St. John's Roman Catholic, 1906; Norwegian Free Lutheran and Trinity Lutheran, 1906.  The Methodist, Catholic and Lutheran congregations are still active, having built new structures in the later years.

Lansford has been plagued by fires throughout its history.  In 1906 a $75,000 fire destroyed five businesses including two general stores and a bank; two years later the south side of main street burned down.  During the next decade several more businesses burned down, the Atlantic Elevator in 1911, the Hotel Ruford in 1917, and the Blevins Restaurant and the Occident Elevator in 1920.  The business community suffered losses again in 1926 as a result of fire.  Destroyed were the Lansford Leader, the First State Bank which housed the post office, various other businesses and the Masonic Lodge.  In 1952 the Dan LaFortune Hotel fell victim to flames, ten years later Sagsveen Implement was destroyed, and in 1973, within a two-week period the Peavey Elevator and the B. J. Wolf Elevator went up in flames.  Lansford Hotel, Bar, Cafe and Western Wear burned in 1981; three years later the Lansford Country Club and the Senior Citizen Center were destroyed.

Businesses operating today are: Archie Lyon's & Son's Honey, the First American Bank and Trust, Lee Brother's Inc., Souris River Grain Co-op, O'Keefe Oil, Homestead Bar, Johnston's Chevrolet, Inc., Midwest Heating, Lansford Lanes, Lansford Mini-Mall (cafe, game-room, motel), Lansford Post Office, Lansford Food Mart, Gates Manufacturing, Inc., Undlin Sales & Service, Tri-S Sales, Souvenirs by Audrey, Adams Simmental Ranch, Helmings Repair, Triplett Insurance Agency, Vendsel Trucking, Dave's Repair, Talley Quarter Horse Ranch, Gunning's Repair, and Hair Palace.  Updated Businesses as of June 1, 2002

Current annual events which draw people to the community include the Country Club Golf Tournament, a Threshing Show, and American Legion Post No. 279's Memorial Day service.

Community activity is centered around the Country Club, with a nine-hole golf course.  The clubhouse was destroyed by fire on March 9, 1984 and was rebuilt the same year.  Activities there include Sunday morning breakfast, steak fry suppers, and bingo.  The building is also used as a Senior Citizen center and as a meeting place for the Hi-Neighbor Club which has 135 members.  The club was organized in 1968.

Other centers of community activity include the Threshermen Historical Society which is located on the south edge of town, the Ambulance Squad, the Fire Department, the Masonic Lodge, the Order of the Eastern Star, Girls and Boy Scouts, Women of Today, Jaycees, and the Community Club.

The Community is proud of its Mall, constructed entirely with local funds in 1982.  To finance the project almost 1,200 shares were sold and several fund raisers were held.  All labor was donated with the exception of the electrical and plumbing work.

Enrollment in the school is small, but it continues to be accredited.  A large number of graduates have gone on to many professional careers, although the main livelihood in the Lansford area remains agricultural.

Lansford was incorporated in 1904.