On Friday, a presentation will be given at the Ellendale (N.D.) Opera House that would be of interest to North Dakota and South Dakota residents, as well as anyone interested in the history of the two states.
Gordon Iseminger, a professor at the University of North Dakota, will talk about his book, The Quartzite Border: Surveying and Marking the North Dakota-South Dakota Boundary, 1891-1892.
Iseminger will give two presentations, the first in the afternoon from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. and the second at 7 p.m. The free programs are open to the general public. Ellendale School students will attend the afternoon session.
Following the division of Dakota Territory in 1889, the two states approved an ambitious project: the 360-mile border between North Dakota and South Dakota was to be marked every half-mile with granite monuments 7 feet long and weighing 800 pounds. The 720 markers would be chiseled from quartzite beds near Sioux Falls. The area was already well known for the unusual hardness and beauty of stone from its quarries. The border would be traversed and marked under the direction of an intrepid surveyor named Charles Bates. Bates and his workers would persevere under two years of difficult weather, mosquitoes and frequent sickness to complete the project. The quartzite border would be a boundary entirely unique in the United States. No other states have similar boundary markings.
The monuments, many of which still stand in their original stations after 120 years, are silent but eloquent witnesses to the frontier era that forged the people and institutions of the region, according to a news release.
Iseminger's research included extensive archival investigation as well as personally walking the border's entire length from Minnesota to Montana, and interviewing countless descendants of the pioneers who settled nearby. The monuments tell many stories, according to a news release.
During his multi-year study, Iseminger gained insights into a variety of related topics.
Iseminger, a South Dakota native and a graduate of Augustana College and the University of Oklahoma, has served as a professor in the department of history at the University of North Dakota since 1962. In 2003, he was named Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of history. He has written extensively on the history of the Northern Plains. His book The Quartzite Border was first published in 1988 and was reissued in 2007.
Iseminger's presentation is co-sponsored by the Ellendale Area Arts Council, the Ellendale Historical Society and for Organization of the People in Ellendale for the Restoration of the Arts. A soup and sandwich fundraising supper will be served in the Opera House from 5 to 7 p.m. for $6 per person. Proceeds will go toward the Opera House restoration.
For more information, call Ken Schmierer, 701-349-2490.