The Stump Lake Pavilion of North Dakota

This last week, from Sunday evening to Friday evening, I camped with a small cadre of highly trained artists at Stump Lake (the Dakota called it Wambduska Bde, which means “Snake Water” or “Creeping Thing Water,” this translation courtesy of good friend Dakota Goodhouse), Nelson County, North Dakota. When we (meaning Molly McLain and I) first approached Stump Lake, and since it had been our first time each, everything was new. So it came as a kind of pleasant shock to find a massive historic pavilion situated at the end of the road at the campsite. My eyes widened large when I first saw it. The pavilion has been used as a roller-skating rink since, I was told, it was constructed. And while I was there, I heard banter about the pavilion either being on, or wanting to be on, the National Register of Historic Places.

A panoramic photo of the pavilion at Stump Lake, North Dakota. Photo from August 2, 2013.

A panoramic photo of the pavilion at Stump Lake, North Dakota. Photo from August 2, 2013.

 

I also heard from Dwight, one of the overseers of Stump Lake campsites, that a raging international polka festival goes on at Stump Lake every summer. Dwight also chatted with me about the stories old timers have told him about their experiences at the Stump Lake pavilion. Dwight said one individual told him how throughout the 1930s they used to polka at the pavilion throughout the night, running down to cool off with a swim in Stump Lake, and then returning to the hard wood polka floors to continue dancing. Does this seem like something out of Prairie Home companion? Of course, anyone from North Dakota knows that the Prairie Home Companion is actually based off reality that has and continues to take place in said North Dakota. It is where Garrison gets all of his best stuff.

An exterior shot of the pavilion from the last week of July 2013, Stump Lake, North Dakota.

An exterior shot of the pavilion from the last week of July 2013, Stump Lake, North Dakota.

 

There are numerous Bohemian enclaves throughout northern Dakota (check this one out here). One just has to devote the time to stop and listen for the accordion. Note: a future research project will have me investigating whether or not the pavilion is on the National Register of Historic Places. If it is, then yes, the universe is in accord with itself. If it is not, well, then there is more work for all of us to do. Might this be an excellent place to consider a future ND Humanities Council Chautauqua, too?… Perhaps, folks. Perhaps…

Pavilion interior, from hardwood floor to exposed rafter ceiling.

Pavilion interior, from hardwood floor to exposed rafter ceiling.

 


2 responses to “The Stump Lake Pavilion of North Dakota

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