The Thirties

In 1930 the city sent a delegation to a meeting of the Missouri River Development Commission at Devils Lake.  The organization was a forerunner of the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District.

Troubles developed with the city water and sewer system.  Chronic shortages in the water fund made it necessary to issue $23,500 in water bonds to pay off the original project.  Meanwhile, there was also a shortage of city water and the city began a search for an abundant supply that did not end until 1954, when wells were dug at the Sheyenne River and the water piped to town.

Electric rates were thought to be too high, and the city looked into the possibility of a municipal power plant.

R. J. Lockner became street commissioner in 1931.  Two years later C.J. Sutter became chief of police in Cooperstown.  Both men worked for the city for many years.

Although the area was experiencing hard times, the city celebrated its fifteenth anniversary July 7, 1932, with a parade and other festivities.  The city council issued a notice asking that residents of Cooperstown "endeavor to discourage the commercialization" of the event.  People who remember the grass-roots celebration say it was a good one.  It was reported that 7000 people attended.  As part of the commemoration, the Opheim log cabin was moved from its original site near the Sheyenne River to the courthouse lawn in Cooperstown.

On a less festive note, the council decreed in May that all persons who had received poor relief in the past year would be required to plant and maintain a garden or they would not receive help.

That year Mr. T.G. Thompson and Mr. Shelstad met with the council to discuss the establishment of a city airport.

Anyone owing money to the city in 1933 could haul gravel to balance the account.  National Prohibition ended that year, and the first beer licenses were issued, to P.J. Tang, John Dahlbom and R.O. Miller.  Sale of hard liquor continued to be prohibited in North Dakota.

The city became involved in the fairgrounds after the Griggs County Fair Association developed financial troubles.  As the depression continued, public works projects were developed.  The Mayor applied for men and teams for the duration of the public works program to work on digging test wells, improving park projects and graveling streets.

One of the park projects was the construction of a grandstand at the fairgrounds using materials from the old south barn on the premises.  (The 1934 grandstand burned in 1962.)

A proposed dam on the Sheyenne River east of Cooperstown and south of Highway 7 was discussed and supported.

The city levied $8000 for 1934-35.

A federal works project for the city involved graveling 40 blocks of streets and the cemetery road.  Thirty men would be hired for 15,000 hours, and there would be 1000 hours of work for teams of horses.  By midsummer 1935 the project was done and the city was authorized to use the remaining allotted hours between the golf course and the cemetery.

In a gesture destined to be forgotten, a women's club declared the Larkspur to be the official city flower, and proclaimed that Cooperstown was to be known as Delphinium City.  Very few people ever called it that.

The public works project for the winter of 1935-36 was to be the paving of Burrell Avenue.  The pay scale for the F.E.R.A. project: teams $.25 per hour; common laborers, teamsters, watchmen, .40 per hour; skilled labor and truck drivers, .50 per hour; handymen, cement finisher's helpers, oiler, bricklayer's helper and similar jobs, .60 per hour; and up to $1.00 per hour tops for blade grader operator and others with specialized skills.

In 1936 the F.E.R.A. had given way to WPA, which was to repair sidewalks, curbs and gutters in the city.

Highway 45 through town was to be oiled in 1936, and a delegation from Cooperstown went to Bismarck to see if the whole road could be oiled, not just a strip in the middle.  No one recalls how they came out.

The band received a 1.5 mill levy in 1936.

Also in 1936, the Junior Chamber of Commerce proposed to construct a wading pool on the playgrounds, using NYA labor.  A CCC camp was to be established in Cooperstown while Ueland Dam was being built.  The National Youth Authority and the Civilian Conservation Corps were both federal employment projects for youth.

In 1936 an initiated measure was passed in North Dakota, legalizing the sale of hard liquor.  The city went into the off-sale liquor business with a municipal store.  Martin Johnson was hired to run it.  The welfare board asked for strict control of liquor sales to WPA clients.  Six beer licenses were issued that year.

In 1938 the city bought a new fire alarm and spent ten dollars on a secondhand tower, bought from Sam Langford, to mount the siren.  A $298 Chevrolet truck was bought to be built into a fire truck.  The water tower was painted again, this time for the sum of $335.

Several persons became J1 from typhoid in 1938, and the city established an ordinance limiting milk sales to those who held permits.  For several years afterward Cooperstown had a milk inspector.

A project to enlarge Berg Gymnasium began to take shape.  It was to use recycled lumber from an elevator, and WPA labor.  The city hall-fire hall was also a WPA project of that era, built by the alley in the northwest part of Block 60 out of the old King-Bruns building.

Ole Stromme, a farmer north of Cooperstown, reported to the council that 10 tons of hay and 10 bushels of wheat burned when fire spread from the city dump onto his field.

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial page 32

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