A North Dakota Railroad Town: Sims, ND

Sims, ND was a stop on the original mainline of the Northern Pacific Railway. It was founded in 1883, with the largest gathering spot in the town, the Sims Scandinavian Lutheran Church, being constructed the following year. It was named after George Sims, a Northern Pacific Executive.

"Small towns like Sims grew up around the railroad, and served the railroad’s needs. Sims offered water and coal to fuel the steam engines on the Northern Pacific Railroad. Sims prospered from its association with the NPRR. The largest building in the photo is the hotel." (SHSND)

"The Northern Pacific cut a line across North Dakota that was nearly straight. The line diverted south to Sims in order to get water and coal. With a railroad stop, Sims became an important shipping point for cattle west of Bismarck." (ND Studies)


When it was no longer necessary for trains to gather water and coal for their journeys, a much straighter mainline was put in place between New Salem and Glen Ullin, ND, all but abandoning Sims, and cutting off the town from the rest of the US railroad network. 


Despite this, the last residents of Sims continued to live in the town into the 2000's, although the last structure in Sims was demolished in 2012, save for the Lutheran Church, which still stands and is preserved to this day.

Sims Lutheran Church. Image: Andrew Filer, 2009

Thanks as always for reading!

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