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Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, Published December 19 2010

As I recall: Readers recount courts in West Fargo, Moorhead

After writing about auto courts in my last column, I heard from a man who reminded me of one in West Fargo and another fellow telling me of an auto court in Moorhead that I do not recall.

Tom Kenville owns what was once the Riverside auto court in West Fargo. It is now called the Riverside apartments and is at Sixth Street West on Main Avenue. The facility consists of a house that once held the auto court’s offices. It has now been divided into apartments. The five cabins have two units each.

According to West Fargo historian Wally Tintes, the house was built in the mid-1940s and the cabins in the early 1950s.

Sam Johnson wrote about an auto court in Moorhead called The Valley Motel located at 2020 1st Ave. N., where the Coca-Cola bottling plant now stands.

Built in 1939, the facility had 18 cabins. The toilet and shower were in the main office building. However, bathrooms were later added to some of the units.

Johnson says the first owners were John and Viola Oleen who called the auto court “Oleen’s Tourist Cabins.” They sold the cabins to Hubert G. Poels in 1948, and he changed the name to Valley Motel. Poels sold the business in 1972.

In 1973, the main office was sold and moved by Forrest Lowden of Lowden Housemovers to a location north of Dilworth.

Lowden was Johnson’s stepfather, and Lowden worked for him, moving the house. It was rented for an office by Northrup King and they used it for many years.

Sam Johnson bought the house in 1991 and still lives there. His telephone number is the same one that was used when the building was the Valley Motel.

Johnson says the other units were sold for $500 each, and three of them went to Lake Cormorant as lake cabins. Another unit was attached to Johnson’s home in Dilworth.

Two other tourist cabin businesses are listed in the 1940 city directory. One was Juls Cabin Court, 1606 Front St. (now Main Avenue) in Fargo. It had disappeared by 1955.

The other was a group of cabins owned and operated by Nettie Overby in Moorhead at 1401 N. 8th St. on old Highway 75 across the street from Stonegate Kennels.

I remember those from attending a Ringling Brothers Circus in 1948 in a field north of the cabins where American Crystal sugar beet plant now stands.

Many thanks to Tom Kenville and Sam Johnson for contributing the information for this column.


Readers can reach Andrea Hunter Halgrimson at ahalgrimson@forumcomm.com