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Bob Lind, Published January 22 2012

Lind: Couple made freight train their wedding transportation

What’s your idea of a romantic form of transportation for a bride and groom on their wedding day?

A limousine? A horse and carriage?

How about a freight train?

Well, that last one did it for Fred and Emily (Schmeichel) Lentz when they married in 1912.

Emily was from McLaughlin, S.D., and Fred was stationed there as a freight train conductor for the Milwaukee Railroad.

Apparently because Mott, N.D., was on the Milwaukee line and was a county seat, Fred thought it was a convenient place to obtain the marriage license.

Right and wrong. Yes, he got the license. But it wasn’t good in South Dakota. So they decided to get married in Mott.

No problem: They hadn’t planned a big wedding, anyway, since the bride’s sister had been married just a few weeks earlier, and another big wedding in the family would have been a little much.

So on their big day, Fred and Emily went to Mott on the freight train for which Fred was the conductor.

The Mott justice of the peace married them, and the newlyweds got back on the train and rode to the end of Fred’s run at New England, N.D. Their honeymoon getaway vehicle was the caboose.

Fred, knowing that family friends would have wild plans for them at the New England depot, stopped the train before it got there, and he and his bride went to the home of some acquaintances. But those friends (so-called) learned where they were and headed there to have a shivaree, a common way back then to give a couple a bad time on their wedding night.

But the couple outsmarted them. They hid in a closet behind the hanging clothes, and their shoes blended in with the shoes on the floor. So even though people peeked into the closet, they were never seen.

Well, the couple went on to have a solid marriage. But they didn’t have many anniversaries. That’s because they were married in a leap year on Feb. 29.

But the story doesn’t end there; it continues on to the next generation, and another freight train ride.

Wintry wedding

It was the winter of 1948, and the Lentzes’ daughter Mercedes, Mobridge, S.D., was to marry Myron Olson, of Baker, Mont., who was working in Mobridge, with the wedding to take place in Baker.

The groom’s best man was to drive the couple from Mobridge to the wedding. But when they got to Hettinger, N.D., their car became stuck in snow.

That was enough for the best man. He got cold feet and took a train back to Mobridge.

But the bride and groom hopped a freight train and got to Marmarth, N.D., just over the Montana border, where the groom’s sister and a friend met them and drove them to Baker for the wedding.

This story comes from Myron and Mercedes’ son, Jim Olson, Moorhead, who would never have been delivered to the world unless freight trains had delivered both his parents and his grandparents to their weddings.


If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com.