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Carrie Snyder, Published February 17 2013

No place like Hope: Historical gems just one feature of ND farming community of 292

HOPE, N.D. - ‘Many of us think our hometowns are special. So much so, that I recently moved back to Hope (N.D.) after living in Fargo for over 20 years.”

Kerry McCullough’s letter got my attention.

“Towns and the people change over the years, but there is still something about being home, being around family and old friends that makes being home feel comfortable and familiar,” he wrote.

I was convinced. Hope was the next stop on my small-town voyage.

Hope is a small farming community of about 292 people in the southwest corner of Steele County. The town has its own municipal power company, a nine-hole golf course, swimming pool, museum, grocery store and many businesses that employ Hope residents.

“We’re a small community. Everyone’s tied pretty tight to it,” said Mayor Gary Ihry, who is McCullough’s first cousin. “We have a lot of amenities other small towns don’t.”

I stopped at Mic’s Grocery & Café and was greeted by members of the Steele County Museum. They heard I was coming to town and were eager to show off their historical gems.

After a quick lunch – a heaping plate of homemade tater tot hotdish, so much I could have eaten for a week – I was off to explore vintage items donated from the residents of Steele County.

Then I was off to visit La Rinascente Pasta Co.; Hope Electric, owned and operated by another McCullough, Joe; and Micada Grain Storage Equipment.

Between stops, I always ended up back at the café, where local townspeople seem to rendezvous. The building housing the café opened in November 2011 after the roof collapsed on the old building the previous spring.

The business happens to be owned and operated by yet another McCullough, Kevin.

“It was a six-month period where we went from old into brand new,” Kevin said. “It shows what people of a small community can do if they really want something.”

Kevin said the community rallied and raised several hundred thousand dollars in a short period of time to rebuild.

“Hope does well for our population,” Kevin said.

After spending the day there, I’d have to agree.

What makes your town special?

The Forum is looking to visit small towns within 60 miles of the Fargo-Moorhead area to periodically showcase in a photo story on what makes your town unique.

Send us a short essay, no longer than 500 words, on what makes your town distinctive from other towns.

Essays can be sent to photographer Carrie Snyder at csnyder@forumcomm.com.