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Selfridge, North Dakota

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Selfridge, North Dakota

Selridge, ND
Location of Selfridge, North Dakota
Location of Selfridge, North Dakota
Country United States
State North Dakota
County Sioux
Founded 1911
 • Mayor Giles Heinen
 • Total 0.27 sq mi (0.70 km2)
 • Land 0.27 sq mi (0.70 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 2,185 ft (666 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 160
 • Estimate (2014)[3] 170
 • Density 592.6/sq mi (228.8/km2)
 • Demonym Selfridgite
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Zip Code 58568
Area code(s) 701
FIPS code 38-71660
GNIS feature ID 1032015[4]
Highways ND 6, ND 31

Selfridge is a town in Sioux County, North Dakota, United States and on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Selfridge was founded in 1911. The population was 160 at the 2010 census.[5] Other settlements near this town include Fort Yates, North Dakota and Porcupine, North Dakota. Previous settlements that have since disappeared are Maple Leaf and Chadwick.


  • Geography 1
  • School System 2
  • Local Business 3
  • History 4
  • Transportation 5
  • Demographics 6
    • 2010 census 6.1
    • 2000 census 6.2
  • Climate 7
  • References 8


Selfridge is located at .[6]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.27 square miles (0.70 km2), all of it land.[1]

School System

The Selfridge Public School District system consists of two main school buildings. Selfridge Elementary serves grades K-6. The high school serves grades 7-12. The school system enrolls around 100 students. The schools were built in the 1950s to replace the old main school building. The elementary school was once a private school for the St. Philomena Catholic Church.

Local Business

The town is now served by the Farmers Union (or Cenex), Branding Iron Bar & Steakhouse, USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), Cedar Soil Conservation, the senior center, and numerous churches.


Selfridge was settled in 1911 along a Milwaukee Road branch line that diverged from the railroad's Pacific Extension transcontinental route in McLaughlin, South Dakota and ran to New England, North Dakota.[7] The first depot was a stationary boxcar moved into Selfridge in 1917 by the railroad on a flatcar; G.E. Langbein became the first depot agent. The boxcar-depot was in pretty deplorable condition upon arrival; it took quite a bit of work to fix it up. In the early days, trains were used extensively, for long distance travel by Selfridge residents and continued until the later 1940s. Selfridge was dependent on the railroad in the early years. Everything came in by train: groceries, lumber, fruit, coal, meat, machinery, mail and even ice. The town shipped all its produce out by train also. Again, the mail, livestock, grain dairy products etc. The trains were a vital part of Selfridge as a growing community.

The first business, a general store, was started in 1911, followed shortly by the Sioux Lumber Company later in 1911. This made for access to building supplies for other businesses and homes which followed. Some of the first homes were crude shanties until the residents could later build their homes, such as the J.K. Wead home and the B.L. Smestad home. These are still being lived in by families today.

Farmers came to the Selfridge area hoping to make their fortune in flax. The area was open range and cattle had to be herded day and night. The area had good farming ground and excellent ranching hills. Horses were used for pulling wagons and for farming and most of the prairie was broken up with walking plows. Travel was slow and difficult due to crude prairie trails and lack of roads. Good roads weren't really built until the 1930s when W.P.A. was put into effect. The roads were then built with horses and crude machinery.

For the first eight years after it was founded, Selfridge existed as an unorganized community without the benefit of municipal ordinances and local supervision—a real "wild west" sort of environment. Before they incorporated to become a village, the residents of Selfridge fought a losing struggle to have Selfridge designated as the county seat before Sioux County became separated from Morton County. History repeated itself, when again in the 1950s the residents tried to have the county seat relocated from Fort Yates to Selfridge because it is more centrally located. Both times were disappointing defeats.

In 1925, the City of Selfridge boasted 51 homes and 63 business places. It contained 2 churches, 4 schools, 3 elevators, 2 garages, 3 implement dealers, 4 filling stations, 2 welding shops, 1 long distance phone, 1 lawyer, 1 pool hall, 2 banks, 1 public hall, 1 picture show, 4 general stores, 3 grocery and meat stores, 1 blacksmith shop, 1 feed barn, 1 rooming house, 2 restaurants, 4 real estate offices, 2 oil stations, 1 hotel, 1 hardware, 1 newspaper, 1 drug store, 1 barber shop, 2 cream stations, 3 contractors, 1 painter, 2 lumber yards, 2 confectioneries, 1 millinery shop, 1 footlocker, and 1 electric, and power & light company.

By 1930 the town had more than doubled its population. We can honestly say the community of Selfridge was a bustling, thriving place to live. The people supported their community one hundred percent. Everything was purchased at home—from machinery, cars, groceries, clothing, fuel, building supplies etc. Nobody went out of town to patronize another community. This is what gave Selfridge its vitality. The roads and mode of travel were not conducive to buying away from home. About the only way things were purchased away from home was through the Sears and Roebuck Catalog. Organizations and groups were formed with all members supporting and maintaining the group to its fullest potential.

During the depression years of the thirties, many local men and area farmers supported their families by working on W.P.A. (Works Progress Administration). The pay was anywhere from $25 to $42 per month depending on the type of work and job and whether the men furnished their own teams of horses. Our city park was started and planted with grass and trees. The City Auditorium was built and sidewalks installed. National Youth Association (NYA) gave many of our young people jobs. They earned $6.00 a month.

As the town grew, fire became its greatest hazard. A volunteer fire department has always been in existence in Selfridge, but never formally organized until 1973. Balls and fundraisers were held often to raise money for equipment. Many of the Selfridge business places and homes have been lost to major fires through the years. Always the people rallied and rebuilt. More evidence of the fortitude the Selfridgites possessed. Prairie fires through the years have threatened the very existence of Selfridge.

As the years progressed, so did the modernization of travel and roads. People were soon able to jump into modern fast moving vehicles and get to their destination with not much time lost. Because of cars, trucks, tractors, and up to date machinery, we no longer needed horses and soon the village blacksmith and harness repair shops disappeared. Soon came the discontinuance of passenger train service because cars were so much more convenient. When rail freight service was no longer available our city dray line was no longer needed. The list could go on of the businesses lost to modernization.

In the early years of the 1940s bumper crops were harvested around the countryside of Selfridge. The farmers enjoyed a chance to take a breath without wondering where the next meal was coming from as in the previous ten years. They hauled their grain into 3 self-operating elevators in Selfridge. Business in town flourished and once again building and remodeling could be seen everywhere. Just as fast as Selfridge recovered from the depression, it was hit by the war years. Research proves that people in Selfridge worked together and everyone did more than 100% to help the war effort and bring peace in the world again.

Farming practices in the Selfridge area have changed drastically over the past 100 years—trash cover on summer fallow, a faster coverage of all stages of farming including seeding, summer fallow, harvesting, etc., as well as chemicals used on weed and insect control, seed variety and treatment. The Cedar Soil Conservation Office should be given credit here as they assisted in dam, dugouts, dike building, planning, surveying and financially. Modern farming practices have cut down on farm labor costs but increased in farm management costs. Farmers and ranchers now spend long hours with the calculators and computers figuring out how to get the best production for the least cost.

An adequate supply of good water is essential to the growth and development of any town or city. The years during the 50's saw the most progress of Selfridge since its beginning. Once again, through research, it was found that the City Council worked diligently to bring about the water and sewer system to the City of Selfridge. Our leading well driller, George Walker Jr., has to be given credit for the important role he played during this project.

Also, not to be forgotten, was the long awaited day of blacktopping all the streets of Selfridge. Farmers and townspeople alike worked for the successful completion of this project. Here again, the Blotske Brothers Construction helped in making this project the success it was. These improvements are today taken for granted, but had we all been a part of Selfridge during those years, we would realize what an asset these projects are and would be more appreciative of them. The paved roads have since deteriorated. They are in such poor condition that they serve as effective town-wide speed bumps. Driving faster than 15 mph produces a bouncing ride hard on the undercarriage (both human and mechanical).

In the late '50s and early '60s, Selfridge hit its peak population. Much construction and building was going on in this area. This meant jobs for people, families moving into our town and maintaining our school and supporting our businesses. The building of the Five Star Cheese Plant also meant jobs for people in our community and an outlet for the product of the dairy farmer. By the 1970s the Selfridge population started going down as did the population of most small towns. People were better able to purchase away from home at a cheaper price. The small town businesses could not buy in the large quantities and therefore, their prices remained higher causing people to buy away from home. Business at home fell off and right on the heels of that came the closing doors of many business places. That, we know all too well, means loss of jobs.

And the young people started leaving the community. During the later years of 1970 it was even feared by the community that it might have to close the doors on its school. This was the trend across the whole country—people moving from rural to urban settings.

U.S. Post office in Selfridge

But, the "Spirit of Selfridge" prevailed through all the low times of its short life. Now young people are again building homes and so are the older generation in their retirement years. Young people are taking over existing business places and starting new ones. Our students are trying their wings and returning to the "old home town" to seek employment or to try a new enterprise. Organizations are forming, with members once again supporting and working together for the success of the group as a whole. The transitory employees who pass through Selfridge, such as teachers, government workers, and Southern combiners, have always remarked on the friendliness of the community and the spirit it possesses.


The main access to the town is using North Dakota Highway 6. The Milwaukee Road line that ran through the city was abandoned in 1983, leaving Selfridge without railway access.[8]


2010 census

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 160 people, 59 households, and 36 families residing in the city. The population density was 592.6 inhabitants per square mile (228.8/km2). There were 76 housing units at an average density of 281.5 per square mile (108.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 33.1% White, 0.6% African American, 58.1% Native American, 1.3% Asian, and 6.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.5% of the population.

There were 59 households of which 32.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 25.4% were married couples living together, 23.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 11.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 39.0% were non-families. 30.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.71 and the average family size was 3.28.

The median age in the city was 34.5 years. 31.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.3% were from 25 to 44; 22.5% were from 45 to 64; and 15.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.4% male and 50.6% female.

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 223 people, 71 households, and 54 families residing in the city. The population density was 830.4 people per square mile (318.9/km2). There were 85 housing units at an average density of 316.5 per square mile (121.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 39.91% White, 59.19% Native American, 0.45% Pacific Islander, and 0.45% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.24% of the population.

There were 71 households out of which 46.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.6% were married couples living together, 28.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.9% were non-families. 19.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 2.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.14 and the average family size was 3.48.

In the city the population was spread out with 40.8% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 23.8% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 5.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 24 years. For every 100 females there were 89.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,375, and the median income for a family was $23,594. Males had a median income of $21,875 versus $18,750 for females. The per capita income for the city was $8,824. About 21.6% of families and 29.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 38.6% of those under the age of eighteen and 31.6% of those sixty five or over.


This climatic region is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Selfridge has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.[11]


  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010".  
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder".  
  3. ^ a b "Population Estimates".  
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  5. ^ "2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File". American FactFinder.  
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  7. ^ Wick, Douglas A. "Selfridge (Sioux County)". North Dakota Place Names. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  8. ^ Brovald, Ken C. (September 1984). "Route of the Charging Buffalo". Trains 44 (11): 32–34. 
  9. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  10. ^  
  11. ^ Climate Summary for Selfridge, North Dakota

History Reference:

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