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 The Story of the Buffalo River Settlement 


"Seventy Years Old, this log cabin still stands on the Buffalo river 5 miles northwest of Glyndon, Minn., a tribute to its builder, the late Olav Thortvedt, leader and founder of the Buffalo river settlement of Norwegians.  It was an addition to the first he built for his family.  It contains many relics of pioneer days.  Miss Orabel Thortvedt has prepared a series of pen and ink sketches of the settlement and its first inhabitants, which will appear in The Fargo Forum beginning Sunday."

sketch of cabin




In May of 1941 the Fargo (ND) Forum ran a series of articles, illustrated by Orabel Thortvedt, that presented her recollections about the Norwegians who settled along the Buffalo River. Copies of her sketches and a transcript of those articles appear here. 


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 "How would you like to glance backward on the pages of history and follow the adventures of the pioneers who came to our prairies some 70 years ago?  And see pictures and read stories about some of the most dramatic of their experiences. And discover as you go along that it is a true story you are reading, about real people and real events?

   Beginning Sunday The Fargo Forum will begin publication of a series of pen and ink sketches and stories describing stirring events in the lives of a prairie schooner caravan of Norwegians who left Houston county, Minnesota, in 1870 and traveled overland to a point about five miles northwest of Glyndon, Minn., where they founded the so-called Buffalo river settlement of Clay County.

   The sketches are by Miss Orabel Thortvedt, granddaughter of the leader of the expedition, Olav Thortvedt. The footnotes also were assembled by Miss Thortvedt who is well known as an artist.  She has lived in the Buffalo river settlement most of her life, knew many of the first settlers and heard their accounts of prairie days first hand.

She has studied many of the articles, utensils and clothing they had.  She has seen several of their first log cabins, for they are still standing. And with this to guide her, and old settlers including her late grandparents and parents as counsellors, she has created a stirring and colorful record of the days when the prairie demanded much of its men and women.

The series will run for four consecutive Sundays.  Be sure that you don't miss this treat starting next Sunday in the Fargo Forum."                                  


sketch of farewell

"This is the First of a Series of pen and ink sketches by Miss Orabel Thortvedt, Clay county artist, which will illustrate a special series of feature articles to start in The Fargo Forum Sunday.  It shows the parting in Norway as a young Norse brother and sister leave home for America.  Other sketches, accompanied by the account of the experiences of the pair, their relatives and friends as they came to a point near Fargo-Moorhead to establish homes on the virgin prairie, will highlight the series.  Watch for them in the Sunday edition of The Fargo Forum."

From the Fargo Forum, May 8, 1941 

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Articles in the Series


May 11, 1941

Wagons Roll West to the Buffalo River Country


May 18, 1941

Settlers Reach Their Mecca on 'Finest Land in Minnesota


May 25, 1941

Pioneer Women Shared the Courage of Their Menfolk


June 1, 1941

Pioneers Met Problems with Staunch Determination




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Print the series

Download a Printable Version

3.17 MB zip file


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Record of the Thortvedt immigration on

The Fargo Forum

The Forum is the local daily newspaper for the Fargo-Moorhead area.

The Fargo Forum's website

You can visit their website at


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