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"Ordinary things... for an extraordinary experience!"

The Dakota Buttes Museum is a must see, with a complex of four newly redesigned and refurbished buildings and outdoor exhibits displaying over a century of life and times in Adams County and southwestern North Dakota. The museum is located in southeast Hettinger, at 400 11th Street South, just west of the Armory. The Dakota Buttes Museum houses a rare, horse-drawn fire truck and hose cart, as well as a memorable collection of early Twentieth Century farm machinery, railroad memorabilia, early and mid-century vehicles, and extensive wall displays of Bucyrus, Haynes, Hettinger, Reeder and Lodgepole. 


The Hall of Flags displays the homesteaders’ ethnic backgrounds and over 350 photographs of first and second generation residents. Other displays highlight important events and topics such as Titanic survivors, Judge Sonderall’s Land Office, the recreation of the early Adams County Record building, the county Court House, military service and sacrifice, churches, area businesses, home life, school and community music and sports, health care on the prairie, the Yellowstone Trail, and Custer's Campground along Hiddenwood Creek.



Open by Appointment Only

Call Loren Luckow

(701) 928-1429

Admission: Donation



Phone: (701) 567-4429


400 11th Street

PO Box 1273

Hettinger, ND 58639

Just west of the Armory

annual meeting notice

Dakota Buttes Historical Society and Museum

Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 4:30 p.m.

Dakota Buttes Museum, Hettinger, ND



     Organized in 1969, the Dakota Buttes Historical Society and the Dakota Buttes Museum (DBHS/M) which it operates has grown in 50 years to a four-building complex attracting 800 -1000 or more visitors a year from all over. In celebration of this year's milestone, they are Remembering the Past, Embracing the Present and Looking to the Future. They invite you to stop by. You've got to see it to believe it! 

    In the entry, learn the history of the famous pink granite obelisks which used to mark the state line between North and South Dakota.

      Look up in the lobby to the Hall of Flags representing 14 early ethnic groups in this area. Learn of first and second generation area settlers in the Portrait Gallery.

     Stop by the Archives and Reading Rooms that house a large collection of photographs, textual information, scrapbooks and over a century's bound volumes of area newspapers from Haynes, Hettinger, Bucyrus and Reeder.

    Enjoy revolving exhibits in the tall, black vintage cases as you move toward Prairie Thunder, the buffalo representing the huge herds that roamed the area. For the first time this year, Prairie Thunder stands before a 12' x 4' panoramic photo of a local buffalo herd on the spring prairies of southwestern North Dakota.

     Visit the two hallways of booths featuring special exhibits of the life and times of people on the prairie, such as the 1950s kitchen (new this year). Enter the Green Room at the south end of building one and go back in time to prairie churches.


  See the 19th century grand piano and Father Copini's traveling trunk, both new this year. Do you play the organ? If so, you are invited to try the Estey crank organ (you'll need a "cranker" of course).

      In building two, experience the life and times of the remaining towns and learn about, and see, life-size models of early businesses. Don't miss the restored horse-drawn fire engine or the vintage vehicles, the area's own Titanic survivor display or the Yellowstone Trail kiosk.

    Walk among the collection of antique farm machinery, equipment and tools in building three. See the hand-made hip-roof barn model with 5,000 hand-made shingles. Enjoy even more vehicles in the outside display, such as the vintage road grader and corn planters and Hettinger's newly acquired first ambulance.

     While outside, enter the Kansas City Schoolhouse, Adams County's first wooden schoolhouse, and see the newly rebuilt, original teacherage, fully restored to its 1937 vintage.

     Located at 400 11th St S in Hettinger, Dakota Buttes Museum is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, 1:00 - 4:00 pm MT, Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, or by special appointment. See the west door list for numbers to call or call 701-567-4429 to leave a message. Admission: FREE. Groups welcome.

     You've got to see it to believe it, especially now, in the historical society's 50th year!


In September of 2008, interested persons from the area and from outside the area were invited to become part of a dream to honor the American bison by donating to the Dakota Buttes Museum’s Buffalo Heritage Project. 


Spearheaded by a committee from the county and the trade area, the goal of this project was to have on display in the museum, a full-sized buffalo bull mount. This mount represents the legendary creatures of the Northern Great Plains who once roamed the area in numberless herds.  Through direct donations and through the “Trophy Hunt of a Lifetime” won by a Grafton, ND, hunter, by December of 2008 the financial goal set by the committee was surpassed.


Local buffalo ranchers Jim Strand and Don Archibald were instrumental in locating and donating the 2,000 pound animal. 


After the hunt in early January, Dakota Packing Company of Hettinger salted and cured the hide. Later, with the help of local national award-winning taxidermist Randy Holler and others, it was packed and shipped to the tanner.  Randy purchased the necessary forms, cast the hooves completed the mount which is displayed on a movable, naturalized base.   


Unveiling of the mount took place on Saturday July 3, 2010.  A contest was held to choose a name with the winning name being "Prairie Thunder".  Photos of various steps of the project will be archived at the museum and displayed here following the unveiling.  


July 3, 2011 - The event featured a Cupcake Celebration, free ice cream and drinks as well as musical entertainment by John Lewis and the Hettinger Cowboy Band. ​Photos taken by Bob Hall.


March 18, 2012 - Many people turned out for the Soup Wars event held at the former Reeder School.  The carnival atmosphere included theme related booths set up by those providing soup, games for the children, clowns, face painting and the display in the entrance advertising the upcoming Smithsonian display. 

  • Overall Theme prize was won by Dakota Western Bank: Lori Privratsky, Shelly Froelich, Dorothy Becker and Michelle Steen. 

  • Overall Soup prize winner was West River Health Services: Arlene Walch and Juana Gross.  

Photos taken by Heather Ebert.


From little ones to great-grandparents in a standing-room-only crowd, the first-ever "Memorial Day at the Museum" collaboration between Hettinger's American Legion Johnson-Melary Post #115 and the Dakota Buttes Historical Society/Museum (DBHS/M) left an indelible mark. 


Surrounded by 25 American flags and 24 large, vintage World War I posters in building two of the museum in addition to museum vehicles and displays, new and long-standing community members gathered on Monday, May 25, 2015, to pay tribute to the many who have served in our country's military and to the many who have died in defense of our freedoms 

"The setting was fitting," said Magnus Maier, "so appropriate for bringing people together. It reminded us of our past and of our future." Members of the American Legion Post began the day-long remembrances and festivities with their traditional Memorial Day Service at 10:00 am led by Post Commander Jay Skaarvold. After the Presentation of Colors by Vice Commander John Jahner and Staff Sergeant Rochelle "Rockie" Schaible, the group joined in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, led by Holly Wyman and Amanda Reimers. Post Chaplain and Hettinger mayor Richard Wyman opened with prayer, after which the Borderline Singers directed by Norman Smith sang an Armed Forces medley. As the various songs or hymns of the military branches were sung, former service members stood to rousing applause from the crowd.  "We had a good representation of the various branches," says Skaarvold. 

Pastor Paul Lint of the United Methodist Church in Hettinger gave the Memorial Day address siting Old Testament scripture in his presentation. Holly and Amanda provided three musical selections throughout the service. In honor of all veterans, a wreath was laid by Janet Schauer.


Near the end of the service, the east wall was opened to reveal the gently falling rain, and the Legion Honor Guard, who has served together in this capacity for twenty-five years, marched out to stand at attention for the 21 gun salute. The solemnity of the situation was hard to miss. The guns went off. Empty shells bounced on the cold concrete. A baby cried. Then silence. And in the silence, the sound of Taps through the quiet rain calling listeners to remember the sacrifice of so many. The service closed with prayer and the retiring of the colors.


Over 150 stayed for the complimentary dinner and an extensive potluck dessert bar served by Dakota Buttes Historical Society/Museum board members and community volunteers. After dinner, the Borderline Singers entertained the crowd with patriotic songs, spirituals, and gospel music. Festivities continued in the afternoon with a presentation by Leonard Bjerklie on vintage World War I posters. An avid amateur collector, Bjerklie provided background on the purpose of the posters and the effects of their messages, encouraging audience discussion and remembrances of personal and family connections to wartime. One of his favorites, the largest, a Third Liberty Loan poster, depicts shadowed soldiers in battle before  a fiery background, with the words, "To Make the World A Decent Place to Live in."  Decent. Not perfect. Perfect is for heaven, but decent, we can do. "It was a day to remember," said one participant. "So many things to think about."  

"The day's events brought us together as a community, in shared remembrances of what so many have gone through to defend the freedoms we take too lightly," said another. "We hope they do this again next year."


Both the Legion and the DBHS/M thank all who helped in so many ways to make the day's events and activities possible. 

Photos taken by Bob Hall.

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