Great Northern Railroad

In 1910 the Great Northern Railroad announced it was going to build a cut-off line across North Dakota from Fargo to Surrey in Ward County.  This was to relieve as far as possible the exceedingly heavy traffic on the main line in North Dakota.  This branch became known as the Surrey Cut-off and made Hannaford a busy railroad town for many years.  This line connects Chicago to the West Coast and Fargo to Minot in North Dakota

The spring of 1910 found work crews in the area.  Camp was set up a mile east of town and water was piped from the creek for the engines and horses.  Work continued through 1910, 1911 and 1912.  A wood trestle bridge was built across the creek.  A water tank with a capacity of 100, 000 gallons and a pumper were erected at the west end of the bridge.  The depot, a residence for the Section foreman, a bunk house for the Section crews, a signal tower near where the Northern Pacific and Great Northern crossed, and a coal chute west of the depot were all erected in 1912.  The first passenger train over the new line passed through Hannaford from Minot on July 23, 1912.  At one time two mainline passenger trains and a mail train went through besides the freight trains.

In 1924 the wood bridge needed repair so two huge concrete tunnels were laid in the creek directly under the bridge.  The entire bridge was filled with dirt to the top to form an embankment.  Dirt was hauled by gravel cars on the track from a hillside 21h miles west of the bridge site.  A sidetrack off the main line was built to where the dirt was loaded by crane onto the railroad cars.  Two tunnels were installed in case of severe flooding of the creek.  During the winter the children of the community would skate right through the tunnels.  In later years more fill was hauled in as the filled area settled and the track was raised accordingly.

In the earlier years, a stockyard was located on the Great Northern enabling the shipping of cattle, pigs, etc. to and from Hannaford.  The stockyards were a great place for hoboes for their cookouts while waiting for the next freight.  The Ely-Salyards Elevator was built on the Great Northern in 1913.  This burned in 1960 and was not rebuilt.  The coal chute was taken down in 1941.  A water treating plant was built in 1930 by the bridge across the creek.  This operation continued into the 1940's when steam engines were replaced by diesel.  Operators of the treating plant were Ole Forseth and John Bruns.

The Great Northern Tower had to be operated and maintained by the railroad to enable the Northern Pacific trains to go through.  The crossing point was called the diamond.  Among the men who worked here were Harvey Benson, Earl Heacock, Clyde Harris and Dick Aamoth.

Miles Tate was the first signal maintainer out of Hannaford.  Jack Priebe came in 1939 and retired in 1959 for health reasons.  Jim Divine has held this job and presently it is Bob Clemens.  Oscar Ashland, Syvert Johnson, Andrew Lura, Harry Lenning, and Matt Lyngby were among those employed at the coal chute.

Depot agents were on duty night and day until the railroad merger when only one pan-time agent was required and finally the depot was closed entirely.  Among the depot agents were Pete Eiden, Spooner, Oscar Skorheim, Ralph Bailey, George Malmin, Walter Kreie, Lawrence Ericson, A. Day, Bliss Littler, Annerude, A. Zimkoski, Larry Almers, Dean Mogard, and several short-term operators.

At one time the Great Northern at Hannaford employed ten full-time people and two full Section crews lived in town.  Section foremen have been Axel Swanson, Ott Harris, Ole Stafne, H. Stubjon, Andrew Midstokke, Emil Lee, Lloyd Johnson and presently Art Nelson.  Working on these crews have been Clifford Ouren, Anton Gilbertson, Gust Fliflet, LeRoy McCallson, Ingvald Lyngby, Harold Steinborn, Selmer Fliflet, Roy Richardson, George Malmin, Michael Fliflet, Al Aalgaard, Lawrence Fliflet and Ira Larson.

After the Great Northern became a transcontinental railroad and as years went by, they made up a special train of 10-12 cars, which was called the "Silk Train".  Cargoes of silk valued at millions of dollars were hauled to Chicago and then New York.  This raw silk was unloaded from the Blue Funnel line steamers at Seattle and transferred to this special train, which rushed the raw silk to factories in the east.  Many of these special trains went through Hannaford.

One foreman related an incident when the fast mail train came around the bend unexpectedly.  He yelled to his Section men "jump" and men and dinner buckets flew off the motor car both sides of the track and seconds later the motor car was hit by the train.  LeRoy McCallsen recalls when the crew was called out at night on a secret patrol of the tracks as President Franklin Roosevelt was on the passenger train en-route from the West Coast.  Mrs. Gustav Sonju tells about President "Teddy" Roosevelt going through on a passenger train en-route to the West Coast in 1912.  A band was present and the bystanders waved as President Roosevelt waved back.  In 1914 the Great Northern passenger train stopped 21h miles west of town to let people off and on to attend the "Big Auction Sale" on the Donald Campbell farm, which was, located about ¼ mile from the track.

A three-day blizzard March 3-5, 1966 practically buried a mile long freight at Luverne.  Hannaford Section crew and snowplows, and crews from Breckenridge and New Rockford were called to the scene.  Two rotary plows from the Rocky Mountain area and a flanch plow were used.  This was the first time in the history of the Great Northern Surrey Cut-off when transportation was nil for a week.  Snow banks were piled up to and covered the telegraph lines for stretches as long as a mile.  The men crawled on their hands and knees to enter the engine through a window.

In 1934 the Great Northern abolished the use of the Great Northern tower and also one Section crew.  The Section lines were made longer as years went by thereby abolishing several Sections in various towns.  After 1934 the depot agents took charge of the tower to let the Northern Pacific trains pass over the Great Northern tracks.

In September of 1967 the rail postal service on the Great Northern was discontinued.  Carriers of mail bags were several during the years including Bob Martin, Harry Lenning, Evelyn Lenning, Leonard Pederson, Bill and Esther Weller.  Robert Martin was the Star Route mail carrier from Hannaford to Cooperstown for a number of years.  The Star Route was also discontinued in 1967.

The Public Service commission granted the Great Northern authority to reroute its passenger train the "Western Star" via Grand Forks in 1968 and this left Hannaford without passenger service.

Today neither the Great Northern or Northern Pacific Railroads exist as such due to the merger in 1970 of the Great Northern

Northern Pacific

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy

and Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railroads into what we know today as the Burlington Northern Railroad.  The passenger service since the merger has been called Amtrak, but does not go through Hannaford.  Today only freight trains travel on the Surrey Cut-off.  The depot was closed in 1972.  Grain service for the Farmers Elevator is handled by a traveling agent.  Elgar Paulson bought the depot in 1973 and moved it to his lots behind his home.  Dean Mogard was the last agent stationed at the G. N. depot in Hannaford.

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