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Kevin Bonham, Forum Communications, Published July 06 2012

Dahlen, ND, marks 100 years

DAHLEN, N.D. – Arlan and Jan Dahlen and their neighbors will host as many as 500 guests today, as the community named for Arlan’s ancestors celebrates its 100th anniversary.

It should be quite a crowd for this Nelson County town that currently has just 18 residents.

“Arlan’s great-grandfather settled here in 1881,” Jan Dahlen said of Elling Dahlen, a Norwegian immigrant who first lived in the Rochester, Minn., area before venturing to northern Dakota Territory via covered wagon.

Elling and Marit Dahlen had eight sons, who all established homesteads or businesses in the area.

While Dahlen Township was organized in 1884, the village of Dahlen was not established until 1912, when the Soo Line Railroad extended a line from nearby Fordville. A post office opened a year later.

The population grew until 1920, when it peaked at about 200, before gradually dwindling to about 60 in 1960.

Arlan Dahlen went to all 12 grades in Dahlen, graduating from Dahlen High School in 1955. Janice Dahlen, meanwhile, grew up near Whitman, a community just down the road that observed its centennial on Friday. She attended school in Brocket.

“There were a lot of people and a lot of kids,” she said. “It’s a big change. Now, the people are going to the larger cities.”

Dahlen Farmers Elevator and Oil Co. is the only business left in town, and the Dahlen Lutheran Church is still operating.

But today, it should be booming again. The centennial events begin at 8 a.m., with a parade at 11 a.m.


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Kevin Bonham writes for the Grand Forks Herald