Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County

Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County This local history museum’s Hjemkomst Viking Ship and Hopperstad Stave Church make a premier destination for Scandinavian and Northern Plains heritage.
The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County (HCSCC) directs a local history museum and hosts traveling exhibitions in 7,000 sq. feet of space at the Hjemkomst Center. HCSCC is a community resource for over 200,000 people in the Fargo-Moorhead metro area and serves an average of 30,000 visitors a year from all over the world.

03/19/2019

Join us Thursday at the Comstock House for an introduction to the Comstock daughters. MSUM researcher and HCSCC volunteer Rachel Goetz will deliver a Drache Lecture exploring the two women's lives.

03/15/2019
Trygve Olson: Cartooning 35 Odd Years

"Trygve Olson: Cartooning 35 Odd Years" opening at the Hjemkomst Center on Tuesday, March 26, with "Lines with Power & Purpose: Editorial Cartoons."

Join us for the reception, Opening Reception: Lines with Power & Purpose, and see the exhibition through June 20!

No museum stops this snow day, folks. We are closed.
03/14/2019

No museum stops this snow day, folks. We are closed.

A collection of photographs featuring some of the Clay County women who lived here before us. Most of these individuals ...
03/08/2019

A collection of photographs featuring some of the Clay County women who lived here before us. Most of these individuals were photographed by S.P. Wange and O.E. Flaten more than 100 years ago.

Although some winters it's hard to believe, spring does return to Clay County each year. Typically in late March and ear...
03/06/2019

Although some winters it's hard to believe, spring does return to Clay County each year. Typically in late March and early April, warming temperatures melt the ice and snow that pile up during winter. All of that water drains into the Red River and flows north to Hudson Bay in Canada.

However, each year we have about a 50% chance that the water will flow over the river's banks and create a flood. About once in 10 years that flood will be serious. Over the past 25 years we've seen a flood just about every year, to varying degrees of severity. Timing and weather are key. Floods depend on how much snowfall we receive, how fast the snow melts, and whether we have rain during the spring melt.

The 1952 flood devastated low-lying residential areas along the Red, such as Woodlawn Park seen in the photo here. This and similar floods led to the removal of flood-prone housing in Moorhead's Urban Renewal Project area in the late 1960s.

Photo courtesy of Forum Communications.

Have you gone "Beyond Bollywood," too? Join us at the Hjemkomst Center! Explore the exhibition or stop in during one of ...
03/05/2019
Hjemkomst Center goes 'Beyond Bollywood'

Have you gone "Beyond Bollywood," too? Join us at the Hjemkomst Center! Explore the exhibition or stop in during one of our upcoming events.

Many thanks to John Lamb and InForum for the fine introduction.

news, sports, opinion, entertainment, business, lifestyle, milestones, obituaries and weather for Fargo, ND

02/27/2019
Lake Region Arts Council

We are honored and grateful for the fact that Minnesota continues to invest in our communities' arts, histories, and environments. Here's former Moorhead mayor Del Rae Williams speaking about the impact of the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment in our lovely little home on the western border.

Many thanks, too, to the Lake Region Arts Council for the video and their continued support at the Hjemkomst Center!

Filmed last year, Moorhead's (former) Mayor Del Rae Williams speaks on the impact of Legacy funding for the arts in her community...

Don't worry, folks. The archives suggest winter will one day end. In the meantime, here's a photo from the John Glas col...
02/25/2019

Don't worry, folks. The archives suggest winter will one day end. In the meantime, here's a photo from the John Glas collection showing 10 1/2 Street North in Moorhead after a 1966 storm. Note the red flag directed toward any approaching snow plows.

Thank You! Giving Hearts Day was a wonderful success for us at HCSCC. We appreciate your support of local history and we...
02/15/2019

Thank You! Giving Hearts Day was a wonderful success for us at HCSCC. We appreciate your support of local history and we'll continue to put that support to use preserving and sharing our local stories.

02/14/2019

Friends, tomorrow is Giving Hearts Day, and we'd love your support. Please consider a donation to HCSCC in the name of local history and local community. That's what we're all about.

Many thanks to Aaron and the wonderful crew at Junkyard Brewing Company for a generous gift this afternoon! Please consi...
02/13/2019

Many thanks to Aaron and the wonderful crew at Junkyard Brewing Company for a generous gift this afternoon! Please consider supporting local history by supporting HCSCC this Giving Hearts Day!

We love the work our friends at the Red River Market are doing championing local foods. Join us at the Hjemkomst Center ...
02/08/2019

We love the work our friends at the Red River Market are doing championing local foods. Join us at the Hjemkomst Center tomorrow for a look during Red River Winter Market.

The photos show local photographer S.P Wange's Hawley garden in 1905 (with son Vern Wange standing in the first).

02/01/2019
Prairie Public

Prairie Public put together this wonderful piece exploring our exhibition of "Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation" and the process that pulled it together. Give it a look and then check it out at the Hjemkomst Center!

"Beyond Bollywood: Indian-Americans Shape the Nation" is a traveling Smithsonian exhibit that has landed in Moorhead at the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, and aims to highlight the immense contributions of Indian-Americans in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Members of Fargo-Moorhead's Indian community have contributed artifacts, photos, and cultural items to help bring the exhibit to life.

An O.E. Flaten photograph of a local winter logging operation: three lumberjacks, two horses, and a sled full of timber....
01/31/2019

An O.E. Flaten photograph of a local winter logging operation: three lumberjacks, two horses, and a sled full of timber. The workers hold a whip, a pike, and what appears to be an axe. Logging has historically been the most dangerous job in the United States -- so also notice those top logs aren't chained....

The photo was taken sometime between 1900 and 1930.

National History Day is a wonderful opportunity to promote scholarship in our region. However, it requires local histori...
01/31/2019
Judges | National History Day In Minnesota

National History Day is a wonderful opportunity to promote scholarship in our region. However, it requires local historians of all sorts (professors, teachers, librarians, journalists, graduate students, book lovers, history nerds, etc) to serve as judges. Join us for the West Central Regional at Minnesota State University Moorhead on Monday, March 11 (3PM - 8PM), and help us promote local, evidence-based history in Minnesota!

Sign-up and information available here:

01/29/2019

Stay home and stay safe. Our museum is closed today and tomorrow.

We had a wonderful time celebrating Indian Republic Day around our Viking ship at the Hjemkomst Center this weekend. Ple...
01/28/2019

We had a wonderful time celebrating Indian Republic Day around our Viking ship at the Hjemkomst Center this weekend. Please join us in these frigid weeks as we explore Indian American culture, beginning with Glimpses of India: A 3-Part History on Sunday, February 3.

Image: a photograph of Indian American dancers performing in the Hjemkomst Ship Gallery.

A 1915 S.P. Wange photograph of Myrtle Berg, Pearl Johnson, and Anne Marie Wange dancing to their own music in Hawley (F...
01/25/2019

A 1915 S.P. Wange photograph of Myrtle Berg, Pearl Johnson, and Anne Marie Wange dancing to their own music in Hawley (Flaten-Wange Collection, HCSCC).

Please consider supporting local history this Giving Hearts Day. There are so many wonderful organizations taking part i...
01/23/2019

Please consider supporting local history this Giving Hearts Day.

There are so many wonderful organizations taking part in this day of giving, and we know that many of them are working to simply fill crucial gaps providing basic necessities and services to our community. These people are literally saving lives. Please support them. Please also remember just how vital local, evidence-based history is to our sense of community and our understanding of truth. Consider donating to HCSCC on February 14.

#HCSCC #CountMe #GHD2019

01/09/2019
How to Make a Drill Press Machine | Homemade Mini Drill

Why would you make a homemade drill press from scrap electronics and plywood? Join us this Saturday afternoon at the Hjemkomst Center for the answer. John Deere Electronic Solutions engineer Gurmukh Advani explores the history of "jugaad," an Indian engineering concept meaning "something from nothing," and leads a short workshop during Jugaad: An Exploration.

#homemade #Drillpressmachine #homemadeinvention How to Make a Drill Press Machine

Folks, Fargo-Moorhead Convention & Visitors Bureau knows how you start a Fargo-Moorhead trip: COFFEE. Yes, a fairly obvi...
01/08/2019
A first-timer's itinerary to Fargo (winter edition) | Fargo-Moorhead

Folks, Fargo-Moorhead Convention & Visitors Bureau knows how you start a Fargo-Moorhead trip: COFFEE. Yes, a fairly obvious choice.....

But then you stop to see us at the Hjemkomst Center!

Never been to Fargo? This two-day itinerary is a great start for your first trip to Fargo in winter, with things to do, places to eat, and what to pack.

Our bone and fossil collection at the Hjemkomst Center only hints at the marvels of our past, particularly the Red River...
01/07/2019

Our bone and fossil collection at the Hjemkomst Center only hints at the marvels of our past, particularly the Red River Valley's underwater history.

During Earth's Precambrian Period, algae flourished in shallow seas now best recorded in Minnesota's northeastern iron formations (more than 2 billion years old). During the Cambrian Period (540 - 490 million years ago), our landmass sat near the equator on the continent of Laurentia, with large sections of land intermittently slipping below the surface of the ocean and giving rise to a biological record that includes trilobites and cephalopods (the next 100 million years would give us early fish, including early sharks, and the carbon foundations of the Bakken Shale to the west).

By the Late Cretaceous Period (100 - 66 million years ago), North America had drifted northward from both its Cambrian address and its Pangea stopover, and continued taking a more recognizable shape. However, our coastal mountains and plains were split in two by the Western Interior Seaway, a shallow sea stretching from the Gulf of Mexico into the Arctic that pushed eastward into Minnesota frequently enough to periodically cover the Red River Valley in seawater. Sharks and reptiles like the 45-ft mosasaur swam through this seaway past land creatures like triceratops and t-rex on the shoreline until the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) extinction event 66 million years ago.

The Western Interior Seaway dried up during the Cenozoic Era following that mass extinction, but repeated glaciation, particularly during the Quaternary period (2.5 million years ago to the present), brought water to the Red River Valley again. Ice, sometimes in sheets miles-high, crept southward across the globe, reaching its glacial maximum in North America about 25,000 years ago. When the ice receded, Lake Agassiz, the Great Lakes, and markedly higher ocean levels were left in its wake. Fargo-Moorhead, for example, would have been covered by Lake Agassiz for most of the years between 12,000 and 9,000 years ago. At various points this water would have been more than 200-feet deep, about as high as the Radisson in Downtown Fargo today.

Repeated glaciation and erosion brought a fertile silt to the Red River Valley, but it also leveled the topography and buried or destroyed much of our region's prehistoric fossil record. As a result, the fossil records of states like Minnesota and Wisconsin are marked more by the marine and Ice Age life of sharks and mammoths than by the dinosaurs frequently found in Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas.

A little winter art from a Clay County local on this snowy Thursday....
12/27/2018

A little winter art from a Clay County local on this snowy Thursday....

This watercolor by Orabel Thortvedt is part of the series "11 Watercolors of Pioneer Life," done between 1910 - 1953. This painting features children skating on a frozen pond next to railroad tracks while a train goes by.

12/27/2018

The museum is closed today. Enjoy the snow and stay safe!

Happy Holidays, folks! We'll be closed on Monday, December 24; Tuesday, December 25; and Tuesday, January 1. Stay safe, ...
12/23/2018

Happy Holidays, folks! We'll be closed on Monday, December 24; Tuesday, December 25; and Tuesday, January 1. Stay safe, be warm, and join us in 2019!

12/19/2018

Please join us at the Hjemkomst Center on Saturday, December 29, for our Indian Fashion Show, directed by our friends at the Indo-American Association of Great Plains - IAAGP. Upstairs you'll find "Suitably Attired," our exploration of "The Suit" from the Emily Reynolds Historic Costume Collection.

An O.E. Flaten photograph of baker Ferdinand Strub's delivery carriage on Front Street (Center Avenue) in Moorhead, Minn...
12/17/2018

An O.E. Flaten photograph of baker Ferdinand Strub's delivery carriage on Front Street (Center Avenue) in Moorhead, Minnesota. The view is to the southeast from 4th Street and heavy snow lies on the ground.

The photo was taken in the early 1900s, probably 1902, when Strub and his family operated the bakery out of their home at 11 4th Street North -- the current site of the Moorhead Farmer's Market and the Moorhead Center Mall's south parking lot. Strub and wife Louise later moved to 7th Street North.

HCSCC Vice President, IAAGP member, and Sanford Health anesthesiologist Vijay Gaba joined us Wednesday to talk to West F...
12/14/2018

HCSCC Vice President, IAAGP member, and Sanford Health anesthesiologist Vijay Gaba joined us Wednesday to talk to West Fargo's Liberty Middle School about Indian language and culture. The students were here to explore the Smithsonian's "Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation." Local businesswoman and IAAGP member Daksh*ta Gupta looks on before taking part.

We're surrounded by good people helping us teach local history and culture in the Red River Valley.

Did you know that you can explore the Science Museum of Minnesota's "RACE: Are We So Different?" at the Hjemkomst Center...
12/13/2018

Did you know that you can explore the Science Museum of Minnesota's "RACE: Are We So Different?" at the Hjemkomst Center? It's free-of-charge, too!

See it at the Hjemkomst Center in the 3rd Floor Atrium and watch for upcoming programming.

12/11/2018

Tonight we're gathering for a history of the 1918 influenza pandemic. It crept into the community by rail and struck during the deadliest fall of Clay County's recorded history, against the backdrop of World War I, Prohibition, and burgeoning support for the Nonpartisan League, Women's Suffrage, and the Farmer-Labor party.

Join us at the Hjemkomst Center for We Are Afraid: Clay County & the Spanish Flu.

12/10/2018

TONIGHT our friends and frequent collaborators at the Fargo History Project debut their short documentary, "1898-1899: North Dakota Goes to War." Our most recent communications intern Ben even played a big part putting it together....

See it for FREE tonight: 7PM at The Fargo Theatre!

12/07/2018

Please join us Saturday afternoon at 2:00PM for a Children's Indian Dance & Fashion Show directed by our "Beyond Bollywood" collaborators, the Indo-American Association of Great Plains - IAAGP.

In the middle of November throughout the 1930s, Hawley merchants and poultry buyers held poultry and trade days to promo...
12/06/2018

In the middle of November throughout the 1930s, Hawley merchants and poultry buyers held poultry and trade days to promote the poultry business and attract area shoppers. Buyers paid top dollar for the birds and the retailers offered 5% discount coupons. In 1933 and 1935 these events featured visits from Herman “Reindeer Man” Melheim of Ray, Minnesota, as Santa Claus.

Melheim, a Norwegian immigrant, had been persuaded to don the old man’s suit by a Minneapolis businessman named Nick Dimond, who had purchased a herd of reindeer, moved them up to Lake Kabetogama (in present-day Voyageurs National Park), and hired a few local Finns to train them. When Dimond died suddenly, Melheim married his widow and continued to tour with the reindeer. In his trips to Hawley, Melheim’s outfit included a dog sled, five huskies, an Indigenous Minnesotan dressed as an Inuit, two former dog-sled freighters from the Hudson Bay Company, and Melheim’s reindeer and sleigh. Besides Melheim, the reindeer who could climb stairs seemed to be the star of the show.

Melheim’s Hawley visits were popular enough for local schools to cancel afternoon classes, and the Hawley High School Band even took time to play as Santa (Herman “Reindeer Man” Melheim) paraded the streets. Children enjoyed the animals and particularly the reindeer, which were fairly foreign to most locals. The kids took turns feeding the animals moss, oatmeal, and sugar beet pulp.

Hawley photographer S.P. Wange took a photo of Melheim during one of his visits. This is that photo.

* * * * *

Image: an S.P. Wange photograph of Herman "Reindeer Man" Melheim dressed in a Santa Claus outfit and standing next to a small Christmas tree, circa 1935 (HCSCC).

Following 30 years of rail access, by 1900 about 15% of Clay County residents traced their roots to Sweden (often direct...
12/06/2018

Following 30 years of rail access, by 1900 about 15% of Clay County residents traced their roots to Sweden (often directly through their immigrant parents or as immigrants themselves).

The Swedish TV show Allt För Sverige is looking for the descendants of those Swedish emigrants to return and are asking folks like us to help spread the word. If you're looking to visit Sweden or touch base with your Swedish relatives, consider applying.

Moorhead, Minnesota, is located on the state's western border, across the Red River of the North from Fargo, North Dakot...
12/03/2018

Moorhead, Minnesota, is located on the state's western border, across the Red River of the North from Fargo, North Dakota. As an otherwise landlocked section of the Upper Midwest, it doesn't conjure images of ships and the open sea. However, the ancestors of many of these landlocked residents were very much seafaring people. After the Northern Pacific Railroad reached Clay County in 1871, the next several decades featured a wave of prominently Nordic and German homesteaders into the borderlands and summer hunting/fishing grounds of the Métis, the Dakota or Oceti Sakowin, and the Ojibwe or Anishinaabeg, as well as the Cheyenne, Assiniboine, and Cree. With those Nordic and German homesteaders came new stories and traditions, often drawing from the history, folklore, and myths of the Vikings.

The raider kings and bands of the Norse people, the Vikings ruled the northern European seas from the 8th through the 11th centuries CE. They traveled and traded far, touching down in Canada and both raiding and exchanging goods as far east as Iraq and as far south as Africa. At the foundation of their influence and reign was the long boat – a vessel adapted for both sailing the high seas and navigating shallow rivers, thanks to the hull's flexibility, the presence of both sails and oars, and a shallow draft. With these ships, the Vikings left their mark on a wide swath of the globe.

In 1971, one of the descendants of these people — both the Norwegian immigrants and their older Viking counterparts -- Robert Asp decided that he would return to the sea. The Moorhead Junior High School guidance counselor had shared his dreams of building a Viking ship with his brother Bjarne for years, but his plans were mobilized after a severe fall from a friend's roof that summer. While recovering from his injuries, Bob spent his newfound free time studying his Norwegian heritage. His studies led him to the story of the Gokstad burial ship that had been unearthed in 1880 from a burial mound near Sandefjord, Norway. Current estimates suggest this ship was constructed circa 800 CE. Bob would build a Viking ship modeled after the Gokstad and he would dream of sailing it to Norway.

Address

202 1st Ave N
Moorhead, MN
56560

The city MAT bus makes stops at the Museum upon request. You may call from the gift shop to make arrangements.

General information

Museum admission: HCSCC members Free Adults $10 Seniors + College Students $9 Youth (5-17) $8 Children (4 & under) Free Admission is free from 5 - 8 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month.

Opening Hours

Monday 09:00 - 17:00
Tuesday 09:00 - 20:00
Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 09:00 - 17:00
Friday 09:00 - 17:00
Saturday 09:00 - 17:00
Sunday 12:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(218) 299-5511

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