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History of Westhope

The following is reprinted from an article by Scott Wager in July 9, 2002 issue of the Bottineau Courant not in its entirety

The origins of Westhope actually happened in 1903; however, the town's beginning can be traced back to a small community called Richburg, which was made up of farmers and businessmen and originated in 1898.

In that year, pioneer businessmen plotted the city of Richburg in Richburg Township. The immigrants of Richburg saw potential in their new world and named the "rich" land they had journeyed too, to symbolize their dreams of a more prosperous life.

August Soucie established the first business in Richburg in 1899, when he opened a General Store. The Richburg Post Office was established on January 8, 1900. Jules Beaudoin was stationed as community's first Post Master. During the next three years the town of Richburg grew and became an "up and coming" community in the western part of Bottineau County. A school, a Presbyterian Church, a bank, a physician's office, and a variety of businesses grew out of the affluent soil in that area.

Those three years went by quickly for the residents of Richburg, and it appeared that the town would have an eternity of existence; and then it disappeared. In 1903, the Great Northern Railroad purchased and originated a town site that was located one and a half miles east of Richburg. At that time, the Great Northern contacted the residents of Richburg, Scotia, and Sergious (the later two towns were small communities that were in the surrounding area of Richburg) and informed them that the railroad company would be stopping in their newly purchased town site and wouldn't be venturing past that point to the west.

The Great Northern Railroad then encouraged those community members to buy lots in their new town. Richburg, Scotia, and Sergious all knew that without the railroad coming through their towns, their communities would fail. So, in the fall of 1903, the three communities moved to Great Northern Railroad's new town, where they purchased lots and begin their new lives in a town that the railroad company had named Westhope.

According to the residents of Richburg, shortly after the communities moved to Westhope, the Great Northern Railroad laid track west to Antler, ND and right through their old town site of Richburg. Through historical documents, the Richburg residents state that they feel the Great Northern Railroad used them in a money making scheme to help railroad.

Antler was hit first by one of the tornados and almost leveled the community, which left numerous buildings destroyed and killing a small number of people. Two other tornados put their cross hairs on the City of Westhope, but at the last moment one tornado went just south of the community, while the last tornado went north.

The first resident to be hit by the tornado in the Westhope area was Giles Hoskin. Hoskin's barn was lifted off its foundation and landed on top of his house, destroying it completely. Next to be hit was Elmer Carlson whose home was completely destroyed.

The Nelson family was caught in the open when the tornado came. Mr. Nelson was able to get his entire family flat on the ground and survived being sucked up into the tornado by clinging to the grass beneath him. The tornado that swept north of Westhope left destruction in its path.

To obtain a more complete history on the City of Westhope, read the book by Bette and Leonard Lodoen titled "This Land of Mine."

Please contact us with any stories, whether in digital (computer), written, or recorded format so that we may add it the site to help ensure the preservation of the history of this wonderful town.