Our travel goal yesterday was to avoid the boom-town of Williston and seek out the little town of Baineville, just on the border of N.D. and Montana. Jim found a website for Buffalo Trails Museum at Epping, which was closed, but we decided to have a look at the area anyway. It was about 10 miles out of our way. The turn-off required us to cross two lanes, a meridian and another two lanes of oncoming traffic and whoops! The road is gravel? Oh, well, we’re committed. We bumped miserably along popping rivets and screws and bolts, we are sure, for about ten miles.
we pulled into town and parked next to this ramshackle old building.
There wasn’t a car or a person anywhere in sight. With a one block main street we just walked along taking pictures of this “ghost” town and peeked in the windows.
After a few minutes of poking around, Heather appeared out of nowhere and began watering plants in front of the school.
She took us to the Museum office and introduced us to Shelly. These two women are the only two people who have keys to the buildings we were looking into and even though the museum was closed, they opened up the buildings and allowed us to tour the complex.
In the front part of the office was a dental exhibit, all items here have been donated by locals. I don’t know the population of the town in 1905 when Epping was founded adjacent to the Northern Pacific Railroad, but in 2010 the population was 100 people according to the census.
In every building, the human figures were made out of papier mache by a guy named Elmer.
Behind the office was some rolling stock. Kind of reminded me of a Bonnie and Clyde affair.
My quest for something I’ve never seen before was soon answered. This little wooden horse-drawn wagon is a school bus.
Elmer did a lot of work here. A life sized diorama of his family, with Elmer in bed getting medicine from the doctor, his little brother crying.
This gentleman reading the paper in an exhibit looks just like pictures of Elmer. In fact, almost all of the gentlemen in the exhibits look like Elmer.
Elmer put together several very authentic box dioramas in which he went to the hill where this Indian village was located, he studied the topography, even picked the grass from the site to make this scene. He must have been an interesting character.
One building has a unique cement floor.
The one room school house classroom is in beautiful condition.
North Dakota winters require a mighty stove and this one is a beauty.
You’ll notice in this kitchen exhibit the wall paper is made from newspaper, not uncommon in the early 1900’s.
Another item I’d never seen, a painted story hide.
And from the General Store, a marshmallow beater. I can’t quite fathom how I’ve managed my life without one.
The cafe building is historic as is the tavern. Both are open businesses. The tavern was closed but the cafe was open. We didn’t see any activity around the cafe for the hour we wandered the street until lunchtime. Then out of nowhere a few trucks and cars pulled up for the daily special, a cheeseburger and tomato soup.
We practically sat under this buffalo head for our lunch. But, I’m digressing. This is a ghost story.
This exhibit is one the ghost likes to fool with. There is a big space between the two shelving units in this building. Heather and Shelly never enter this room alone because it gives them the willies and they have the only keys. The board was replaced, by a carpenter, screwed in, and, when they returned, it went missing. After three tries, they gave up.
A glass stopper collection was removed for dusting. The girls placed them on top of the case in rows. When they returned, they were disheveled and moved around. Twice. Lights that have been turned out, go on. They think they know who the ghost is.
The man who owned this hardware store hung himself in the open window above so everyone returning from church could see him hanging there. They replaced the window. And the next day it was broken out. They replaced it again. The same thing happened. Now, they just leave it open.
We left Epping glad we braved the bad road and got direction from the girls to a short gravel road to a paved highway that took us right into Williston. We breezed on through.
Everywhere, we see mobile homes in clusters, temporary housing for oil workers. Billboards advertise for house builders needed, jobs, jobs, jobs. It is a boom phenomena. People rent out space in their yards to two or three mobiles.
Road workers needed.
Every half mile or so, we see another well going in.
Bainville was another gravel road town without even a mom and pop store or gas pump. A post office and a church with a few houses. We pushed on 14 miles west to Culbertson, Montana and spent the night in a delightful city park.