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Hudson Townsite State Historic Site

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The Hudson Townsite State Historic Site, southwest of Oakes, Dickey County, marks the location of one of many speculative townsites established during the Great Dakota Boom (1879-1886) by people who hoped they could attract one or more railroads. This townsite is an example of the boom-bust settlement typical of the time. The plan to establish a town called Hudson began in 1883 with the formation of the Dakota Midland Railroad. A group of promoters headed by W. H. Becker met in Ellendale, Dakota Territory, where they organized the railroad, obtained a charter, secured right-of-way, and projected several townsites, including Hudson. The neophyte railroad would extend from Ellendale through Hudson to Wahpeton.

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The townsite plat for Hudson was printed and widely circulated by M. N. Chamberlain, one of the promoters, who quickly settled down in the new town to sell land. The original town plat shows thirty blocks divided into twenty-five and fifty-foot lots, a central town square, where prospective buyers might envision a magnificent city hall, and extensive railroad depot grounds at the north end of town. The James River, with a projected ferry crossing, ran along the eastern edge of town.

The 1884 Andreas Historical Atlas lists two hotels, three stores, three real estate and loan offices, a printing office, newspaper, livery stable, pump shop, blacksmith shop, and post office in the fledgling town. The newspaper, the Hudson Herald, was established on December 14, 1883, by R. S. Busteed. A combination school and church building was erected in 1885.

During the spring and summer of 1886, enthusiasm for the townsite died when the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad pushed north to Oakes and laid its tracks on the east side of the James River opposite Hudson. That same year, the Northern Pacific Railway ran a branch line to Oakes. The next year the Sault Ste. Marie Railway acquired portions of the Dakota Midland’s grade and pushed west into Oakes, thereby bypassing Hudson.

As soon as the ice froze on the James in the winter of 1886-1887, the town of Hudson was picked up and moved to Oakes. Buildings were placed on skids and dragged by horses and oxen across the ice. The few buildings remaining in Hudson were torn down for lumber or left to disintegrate. In less than three years, a town was born, boomed, and vanished. All that remains are faint depressions, piles of stones, and a few artifacts. The Hudson townsite was acquired by the State Historical Society in 1936. The marker was dedicated July 15, 1956.

The Hudson townsite is also near the July 17, 1839, camp site of the John C. Frémont and Joseph Nicholas Nicollet expedition, early geographers who explored water courses in the Northwest.

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phone: 701.328.2666
email: history@nd.gov