THE LITTLE TOWN OF KARNAK

For the period of 1913, through the mid 1930s, Karnak was a very busy little town made up of friendly families, but without the farming community on all sides of it, it wouldn't have existed as long as it did.

The town was originally named Fairview, then it was discovered another town in North Dakota had that name, too, so it was then called Karnak. 

The railroad was so very important and it still is for the elevator still remains in operation.  A depot was built which accepted freight, mail and any passengers who desired to ride the train. 

There were several fast trains which passed through Karnak without stopping, but there was one little one that came and stopped in the morning and afternoon daily.  It was called the Dinky by the Karnak residents.  It had a passenger coach, baggage and mail car, usually three to seven box cars pulled by a steam locomotive which burned coal.  It traveled from Fargo to New Rockford and returned to Fargo each day and stopped at all the towns along the way.  Without this little Dinky the businesses may not have existed as that was the only means of transportation for supplies such as groceries.

In the earlier years there were very few cars so many farmers came to town with their wagons or sleds pulled by horses depending on the time of the year.  One who I recall came with his wagon and team followed by about six to eight hound dogs which he used to raise.  These teams were tied up at hitching posts along side of the stores while they were doing their shopping.  Many brought their cream and eggs with them and sold them to the stores and bought their groceries and other needed items with the money.

There were three elevators built and many years later they were moved together to make one large one which is still there.

One of the first buildings there was a bank and a pool hall.  This burned to the ground.

A restaurant, three grocery stores, lumber yard, blacksmith shop, post office, stockyards, and nine houses; also a Presbyterian church made up the town.

The post office was located in three different locations over the years.  It was in a grocery store, a home and later in the elevator office.

A missionary and his wife from Oakes, North Dakota, came to Karnak and organized a Sunday School as there were several children in town and in the rural community.  Later a nice little church was built.

This little church congregation were always eager to have many activities as well as having regular church services with ministers from Hannaford and Cooperstown.  The women of the church held their Ladies Aids and always served their so-called lunch, but it really was a meal for a whole 10 .

My parents had one of the stores; had a variety of items to sell besides groceries, such as hardware, sewing thread and even hats and shoes at one time.  Cream and eggs were tested in the store plus car batteries were charged.  As cars became more common, there was also a gas pump placed in front of the store.

It really was a happy little town of these friendly people.  My parents never forgot the children of the community.  During the Christmas season, this little store which was only 20 x 30 feet was always decorated for Christmas and so many toys.  Santa never forgot to come to Karnak either.  He would come to the store as well as to the Christmas programs that were held in the church.

As a child, ice cream and candy interested me.  In order to keep the ice cream frozen, my parents had an ice house for the purpose of keeping it from melting.  The ice was taken from the Sheyenne River in the winter in large chunks and stored in the house built with straw and a wood frame work.  Ice cream cones sold for 5 and one could have a sack of candy for a penny.

In the late 1920s and '30s, there was an economic depression which was difficult for everyone.  People didn't have the money to spend and Karnak began to deteriorate and the businesses had to close and move one by one.  Then too, as cars became more popular, people began to travel further to Hannaford, Cooperstown and Valley City.

Karnak didn't have a school so the children attended the Curtis School two miles south of town and also the Freer School was two miles north.  In later years the Freer School was moved into Karnak and used for other purposes.

Up until 1936, when we moved to West Fargo, Karnak didn't have electricity.  Kerosene lights were used.

Submitted by Esther Trapp Hemm

Source:  Hannaford Area History North Dakota Centennial 1889 - 1989 Page  37

 

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