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Rugby is a small town with two major distinctions. First, the Geographical Center of North America right on Highway 2, with good signage. And, the Prairie Village Museum with 30 buildings housing easily over a million artifacts, most of which are in beautiful shape.

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Prairie Village is just that, a village of buildings moved here from various places in North Dakota to represent what life was like. Similar sites I’ve visited were never this big nor as complete. For instance, two schools, two churches, a telephone company office, cook shack, summer kitchen, log cabin, a bank and so on. Above is the Creamery and a Blacksmith’s building.

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Our plan was to just peak into some of the buildings and be on our way. Before we began I told the docent I like to find things I’ve never seen before. She recommended the basket used to remove bodies to the funeral home. A painfully complete behind the scene funeral parlor with embalmers equipment and tools. Definitely a first.

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Her second recommendation was what she called one of the most popular, Cliff Thompson, the tallest salesman in the world. His picture was at the entrance. I never did find the exhibit with his rings, watch shoes, belt and so on. But, I didn’t mind because I found many things I had never seen before.

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You won’t see many buffalo coats with a diamond willow walking stick. There is no such tree as a diamond willow, but a diseased willow forms this diamond pattern and artists take advantage of a naturally occurring phenomena. Plenty of heavy fur coats,  beaver, wolf, fox, horsehide, buckskin, and raccoon.

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A complete  cook shack.

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A real get-out-of-town notice posted on the Sheriffs Office with a two cell jail, door.

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Miniscule describes the Sheriff’s office, just like in those old western movies, only this one is the real thing. The stove pours heat into the two cells and keeps the Sheriff and his coffee warm.

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A telephone company building resemble a one room house on the outside. And, as it turns out, telephone operators had the switchboard in their houses. The kitchen and a bedroom were in back.

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Have you ever seen a phone like this one? DSC09531 (Copy)

Or these. There is about 40 phones in this collection.

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An early chiropractor’s office, his table, and a number of unidentifiable instruments. The completeness of these offices blew me away. A doctor’s office, dentist, nurses school, law offices, land office, a Norwegian House, and a German Family’s house. With, of course, artifacts and history of Russian Germans and Norwegian who immigrated to this area.

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Schools have a lot in common, but, I had only heard of this bit of archaic punishment for students. It, too, is real. Reminded me of Mrs. Gleick at Soo Hill School.

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The back part of the General Store reminded me of Robinettes General Store in Hardwood. Their stove and seating area didn’t have a checker board, a spittoon and ashtray, though. And, very common to small towns, the store owner was often the post master as in this one.

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Early grocery baskets. Never saw one like that before.

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Amazingly complete, with barrel goods, boxed stuff, fabric, sundries,  flour in bags, it had just about everything through various layers of history.

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Can’t say I ever saw wooden barrels like these at Robinettes.

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The log cabin was very similar to the one I lived in, but smaller. One familiar item, a bucket with a dipper. Every day, the bucket had to be filled from the well. We all drank water from the same dipper as though it were a huge spoon. Mom dipped in her measuring cup to fill the coffee pot or to cook something. We had baths in front of the stove in a big wash tub, once a week. Sometimes, I’m glad we burned out and moved to the city.

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The law office was also part of the lawyers home.

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But, he had an indoor toilet and a little gas stove to heat water for their baths in the same room. I guess lawyers made a lot of money in those days, too.

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He may have started small, but he eventually became a well know N. Dakota Judge.

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There are two buildings filled with rolling stock. I would not have recognized this funny machine as a tractor. Each building held dozens of pieces and for anyone interested in old machinery, this is a must stop.

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Plan to spend half a day at this amazing place. We spent a scant two hours. I’d rate it as one of the best museums I ever seen.

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  1. kathy mclennan

    Very much enjoyed this!

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