Western ND museum brings 100 years to life

Anyone who has ever attended a country school will remember the “Dick and Jane” primary readers, the desks with an inkwell and the pot-bellied coal stove in the corner.

Judy Ridenhower, the board’s president, shares her knowledge with visitors by speaking of her 40 years in teaching at Beach.

“I joined the historical society because I loved history,” she said.

The museum was organized as the Golden Valley County Historical Society in 1970. The museum started with purchase of the Chevrolet garage, and accumulation of three additional buildings. By 1976 all the displays were filled and the grand opening was held.

The society’s pride and joy is the 1909 Little Beaver School, but retired farmers will appreciate the grain wagon, mower and binder in the machinery building, or the Hart-Parr tractor and Case threshing machine next door.

“The little school was moved in from north and east of Beach,” Ridenhower said. “Kathy Wilner, dubbed the “School Lady” documented we had 82 country schools in the county over 100 years.”

Ridenhower’s older siblings attended country school, but when the family moved into Sentinel Butte, she attended school there.

“We have the school bell, the single and double desks, the old furnace, and all the original books,” she said. “In fact, when the fifth grade comes over for a field trip in the spring, we usually have our math lesson there.”

Entering the main door of the museum, visitors find vintage dishes lining the display cases.

“We have the heritage boxes—that is where families purchase a box to represent their family,” said Ridenhower. “They draw a lot of attention during reunions and get togethers. It’s what families valued.”

“Then we get into the main room full of clothing and a lot of quilting. We have a church corner that’s quite popular because we have organs and paintings from the various churches,” she added.

The military room is filled with uniforms—newly cleaned. There’s a buggy, a 1929 firetruck and a restored herse that once was used…

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