Images of Old Marmarth

History of Marmarth, page 2

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One of the early-day problems for the local businesses was that many people had to cross the Little Missouri River in order to get to town. A ferry was used for a while to solve this problem, but it broke loose and floated away. In 1915 work was started on the building of a first-class steel bridge, and on June 20, 1916, a celebration was held to declare the bridge  open. The bridge made it easier for the farmers and ranchers on the east side of the river to do business in Marmarth.

Bridge over the Little Missouri River

Things progressed rapidly for Marmarth, and by February of 1911 it was the largest town in North Dakota on the Milwaukee Railroad and the fifth largest town west of the Missouri River. By 1917 it was the only town in North Dakota to have natural gas piped in for both commercial and domestic use. 1918 saw the completion of a water and sewer system. By then the town hosted many businesses including two banks, two hotels, a hardware store, a jewelry store, a laundry, a post office, a newspaper, a theatre, a gas station, a Ford Agency, a meat market, and a hospital. 

Mystic Theatre

The Mystic Theatre was built in 1914, and is now owned by the Marmarth Historical Society. In 1999 the Society obtained a grant to restore the building; the theatre is now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The Society still operates the theatre and hosts a cowboy poetry gathering in September of every year, along with vaudeville plays starring local talent.  

One of the most impressive projects constructed in Marmarth was the Barber Building, which was built in 1909. The ground floor of this building was occupied by businesses, while the upper story was a fully equipped Opera House. It was at that time the finest playhouse west of Minneapolis. The Barber building burned in 1918 but was quickly rebuilt the same year. The Barber building was purchased by the Marmarth Historical Society to keep it from being torn down so it still stands in Marmarth, but it is in a sad state of disrepair.

Barber Auditorium

Marmarth Jail

Marmarth's old two-cell metal jail. 

Marmarth Tourist CampOriginally called the Marmarth Tourist Camp, today's City Park still offers overnight camping and picnic facilities.

The Bunkhouse Marmarth still exists in its beautiful and unique setting on the Little Missouri River, surrounded by the badlands and shaded by majestic cottonwood trees. With a population of 140 people, the present day town of Marmarth is an interesting mixture of old and new. 

The old Milwaukee Railroad Bunkhouse is still operating year- around as a rooming house with dormitory style rooms. During the spring it houses bird watchers coming to watch the sage hens dance, and summer sees a large influx of paleontologists and amateur dinosaur enthusiasts, as Marmarth is set in the middle of one of the best dinosaur fields in the country. Every summer Pioneer Trails Regional Museum of Bowman, North Dakota, hosts a dinosaur field school whose students are housed in the old bunkhouse. 


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