The route for the final day of the September ride to Kongsberg ND is shown by the violet-colored line on the map.
After breakfast, Myra took me from our motel in Harvey back to where I had left off the previous day, east of Fessenden.
The first 20 miles from that starting point were to make up for stopping short of my goal the previous day. They went quickly. The winds were in my favor for the first time since the very first day. And starting at Fessenden, where I get back on US-52, there was a broad, paved shoulder, so I didn’t have to weave back and forth across a rumble strip. This was easy riding for a change.
By the time I got to Harvey, Myra had already arrived in Velva and had reserved a motel room. I got a sandwich at the Tesoro station and then moved on.
I stopped in Martin to make some adjustments and oil my chain. Across the street from me was the town park, so I took a photo. Some time back I had been told by other bicycle tourers that in North Dakota’s small towns there are city parks where you can stay overnight for little or no money. This appeared to be one of those legendary places. I had also seen one back in Page, but hadn’t taken a photo there.
It looks like most of them are intended for self-contained RVs, but there are also some that might be useful on future rides in North Dakota.
Kongsberg lies in McHenry County, but at the point shown in the photo I still had 40 miles to go and three more county lines to cross. My great-grandfather’s homestead near Kongsberg was on the south edge of McHenry County. My grandfather, when he became of age, took a homestead for himself just to the south, across the line in McLean County. McLean was one of the two counties I would ride in after leaving McHenry, and before getting back to McHenry. Even after this bicycle ride completed, I planned to be spending a lot of time going back and forth between the two counties.
I left US-52 near Balfour and then headed south on state highway 53. This was pleasant riding even though the wind was not at my back on this segment. The winds were light so it didn’t matter much. When I passed by Kief (shown in the photo) I had only 17 miles to go.
Kief is named after Kiev, capital of Ukraine. There are a lot of Ukrainian surnames in this area.
I presume the town of Butte is named for the nearby buttes on the Missouri Escarpment, or maybe for Dogden Butte in particular, which is where state highway 53 would take me next.
Soon after leaving Butte, the road left the flat land of the Souris River drainage basin and climbed up Dogden Butte on the Missouri Escarpment. It was a climb of about 300 feet, which is not particularly long or steep, but it was the biggest climb on this 6-day trip. The road doesn’t go all the way up Dogden Butte, which rises another 200 feet above the roadway, but goes high enough to give a view of the Drift Prairie region to the north. One can see some of the buildings in the towns along the Souris River, ten miles away.
Here is another view of the plains to the north, from . One thing that’s different now than when my great-grandfather homesteaded is the trees – mostly ash trees. Back in 1902 it was hard to find a tree. Even 50 years ago, there were far fewer trees than now, although by that time shelterbelts had been planted on the north and west sides of the farmsteads.
Here, at the intersection of Kongsberg Road and Highway 53, one can see the top of Dogden Butte on the horizon. I’ve never been to the top, but my mother and others used to like to climb up for the view. According to the diaries she left, which I’ve just recently started to read, I may have missed a chance back in the 1960s to go with her for a walk up there.
Kongsberg was never very large, but the old brick bank building is still standing. This building later served as the church where my father was pastor when he met my mother. The railway still runs at the base of the escarpment, although now, instead of grain, livestock, and a few passengers, it mostly carries oil from the Bakken oil fields a little further to the west.
Grandpa’s country store was just on the other side of the church. I ended my ride there, and then spent the next day with family, touring some of the old places by car and on foot. It wasn’t enough time. I hope to get back there soon to take more photos.