Rediscovering the town of Harmon, N.D.

A stream by what once was Harmon, N.D. Dustin White photo

Dustin White
Editor

Located just 10 miles north of Mandan, a small community flourished in the early decades of 1900. While only short lived, the memory of Harmon continues on, with a new community.

Sited by Willis T. McConnell, of Werington Springs, S.D., on July 23, 1913, the small town had great promise.

Getting its name from two brothers, both of which were bachelors, George and H.H. Harmon, the city took on the Harmon name, a name that was important in the area. Later, H.H. Harmon would become the Morton County Auditor.

The city started out quite modest, with just three families first occupying the area. While Harmon would experience a bit of growth, it never amounted to much. A decade and a half after it was founded, the population was only 21, which composed five families.

For a small community, it didn’t lack. With the initial three families, a blacksmith shop, elevator and store had been set up.

The store would serve nearly all of the needs of the community, allowing individuals to buy clothing and groceries. It would also serve as the post office.

Harmon’s store also served another purpose. While locals could buy the supplies they needed, it was also a place where individuals could sell their goods. Purchasing cream from the area, as well as hides and furs, goods from Harmon would eventually be shipped out east.

Throughout the years, Harmon would expand slightly. While the population remained low, they city would boast a gas pump, livery stable, garage, lumberyard and dance hall. For a short while, one was also able to buy vehicles from the garage.

Bright future
A bright future seemed in store for the tiny community. With a number of forward thinkers, the town continued to serve the needs of not only the residents of Harmon, but also the local farmers.

While an initial elevator was built in 1910, a new one would be built on higher ground, to avoid the spring flooding.

The spring flooding would also pose problems to the railway, and on occasion, flood waters would cause the trains to derail.

Even with such problems, the railroad was important to the citizens of Harmon. Serving as a way for local ranchers and farmers to sell livestock and other goods, it also brought mail, groceries and clothing to town.

Eventually, Harmon would have enough of a population to justify a school, and the community seemed as if it was whole.

With the foundations of a great town planted, Harmon could focus on other areas. One of those areas was baseball.

Attracting young men from around the area, Harmon would be able to boast that they had the best team in the county. Going up against larger teams, such as Mandan, the boys from Harmon excelled.

Downfall
As with many of the small local towns, Harmon eventually was hit hard by the great depression and “dirty thirties.” Farmers began to lose their land, unable to pay their taxes.

The rise in the use of cars and trucks took away the little business that remained in Harmon, as it was just as easy to conduct business in Mandan, or larger cities. Gradually, Harmon disappeared.

Because of the difficulties during the 1930s, Harmon’s store was forced to close in the 1940s, followed by the Elevator. Soon, all of the businesses would leave, and the buildings would be dismantled. Harmon was no more.

Tragedy was not over for the area though. On Jan. 15, 1951, two Northern Pacific freight trains collided just half a mile south of town.

Loaded with coal and supplies, the disaster made a large impact on the area.

Today
Today, nearly nothing remains of the tiny town. While a cemetery continues to be used, which was one fourth mile east of Harmon, all other signs have long vanished.

But out of the ruins of the small town, a new community, taking the Harmon name, has risen. While the automobile helped with the downfall of the town of Harmon, it is partially responsible for the opening of this new community.