Around Swedish America in 548 Days

Day 478 - Fargo

Since Swedish pioneers tended to settle singly rather than in groups in North Dakota, their influence was diluted, and relatively few of their landmarks have been preserved. Norwegians were more numerous, and Swedes frequently intermingled with them.

By the early 1960s some twenty-eight Augustana Lutheran Synod congregations were scattered throughout North Dakota. The oldest one, Maple-Sheyenne, 8711 N. Fortieth Avenue, Harwood (701-282-4024), was founded in 1878. To reach this church north of Fargo, from Interstate 29 exit at Harwood, go west and south on Cass County Road 17 for three and one-half miles, and turn west on Cass County Road 20 for one and one-half miles. The sanctuary, which contains an Olof Grafström painting dated 1915, is modernized, but the original pressed-metal ceiling and walls have been retained. A well-tended cemetery is adjacent to the church.

Also near Fargo is the Herby Lutheran Church, 16205 SE Twenty-seventh Street, Argusville (701-484-5239). From Interstate 29, exit at Argusville, go west on Cass County Road 4 for five miles, south on Cass County Road 11 for two miles, and then west for two additional miles. The congregation was founded in 1891.

Other former Augustana Lutheran churches in North Dakota include Elim Lutheran, 321 N. Ninth Street, Fargo (701-232-2574), built in 1905 and rebuilt in 1939; Augustana, 520 University Avenue, Grand Forks (701-775-3187); Gustavus Adolphus, 207 SE First Street, Gwinner (701-678-2552); Grace, 206 Pleasant Avenue, Sheyenne (701-996-2361); Immanuel, 1403 SE Ninth Avenue, Jamestown (701-252-1211); First, 800 N. Seventh Street, Bismarck (701-223-4340); Sunne, 7701 Highway 36, six miles east of Wilton (701-734-6485; www.sunnelutheran.org); and Augustana, 321 W. University Avenue, Minot (701-838-9563).

Covenant congregations include Teien Covenant, 1270-160th Avenue, Drayton (218-455-5868); Knollbrook Covenant, 3030 N. Broadway Fargo (701-235-4622); and Hope Evangelical Covenant, 1601 S. Seventeenth Avenue, Grand Forks (701-772-1884).

There is one more church you may want to see after the one in Grafton (Day 479), but the you have to go up all the way to the Canadian border. Two miles south of the Canadian border and eight miles northeast of Souris is the former Swedish Zion Lutheran Church and Cemetery. The fieldstone and white-clapboard church with clear Gothic-style windows was built in 1903 (the date 1903 and initials S. L. C. can be seen above the main door). Area farmers donated one cent per bushel of wheat to pay for the church’s masonry work. Although the sanctuary no longer serves a congregation, it is well maintained. It contains some of the original furnishings, including the altar and altar rail, pump organ, pews, and a pot-bellied stove. Historic photographs hang on the walls. The sanctuary features a unique stenciled ceiling in cross motif. To reach this isolated church from Souris, travel east on Botineau County Road 6 for two miles, then north on a gravel road identified as NE Third Avenue for four miles, to NE 106th Street, another gravel road. Proceed on this road more than one mile to another gravel road; go north one and one-third miles to Zion Church. On NE 106th Street, travelers pass Bethesda Cemetery on the south side with a stone cairn containing a plaque honoring Norwegian pioneers who established this congregation in 1902.

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