Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Unique small towns in our state...

Posted 4/21/20 (Tue)

North Dakota has three cities in the Red River Valley that border communities on the Minnesota side. They include Grand Forks-East Grand Forks, Fargo-Moorhead and Wahpeton-Brekenridge.

But did you know there are several small towns that also have the distinction of having a twin across a border. It may not be unique in the United States but it’s an interesting geographical perk nonetheless.

Perhaps the most interesting set of communities are the three that make up what is known locally as the Pembina Triangle. Pembina, Emerson, Manitoba and Noyes, Minn. are all within a four-mile radius of each other.

There isn’t much left of Noyes, but Pembina and Emerson are both bustling because of 24-hour ports of entry. It’s interesting how you have the community of Pembina, then there is an entirely separate industrial complex alongside Interstate 29. It doesn’t hurt that it’s the first stop for Canadians coming into the U.S., or the last stop before Americans enter Canada.

Abercrombie, N.D., and Kent, Minn., are just a couple of miles apart. Both are very small villages, but you leave one, cross a bridge and you are in another community.

Portal and North Portal have always provided a great example, not only of how two separate communities can work together, but how a state and a province, or two separate countries can work together for that matter.

Portal in North Dakota and North Portal in Saskatchewan, bump up against each other, both have about the same population and both, much like Pembina and Emerson, thrive because of a 24-hour port of entry.

Perhaps the most interesting  thing about Portal and North Portal is that you can dial a local phone number and you’re actually calling into another country – a local number with a 701 area code or a 306 area code.

Northgate, N.D. and Northgate, Saskatchewan are essentially one and the same. They just happen to have an international boundary running between them. There isn’t much in either community except grain and lots of it.

Ceres Global Ag owns a massive facility on the Canadian side and Viterra, a Canadian company, now owns the former General Mills terminal on the North Dakota side.

Neche, in Pembina County and Gretna in Manitoba are only two miles apart. Gretna sits right on the border and Neche is just south of it by 2 miles.

This is also a busy port of entry linking N.D. Highway 18 and Manitoba Provincial Highway 30. Ports of entry are obvious in either community, but the locals, most of them at least, consider it one community since they are so close.

In fact, in 2005 and 2006, Brian Stockton started the Border Tribune in Neche that drew subscribers and advertisers from both Gretna and Neche.

Hannah and Snowflake, Man., are just three miles apart, but again, neither community is significant.

The province of Manitoba considers Snowflake a ghost town and Hannah has a population of 14.

Hannah had its 15 minutes of fame in 1995 when six Somali nationals sneaked across the border and were spotted in Hannah, in the middle of the night, in the winter. They were all arrested and deported.

On the Montana side we have Fairview with a population of 900 and East Fairview in North Dakota with a population of 76.

These two communities bump up against each other and this time it isn’t a river between them, it’s nothing more than an imaginary  state boundary.

Further south are Beach and Wibaux. In this case the North Dakota community is larger. It has 1,000 while Wibaux has 650 people. One isn’t immediately across the border from the other, however. The communities are 11 miles apart.

For anyone who doesn’t live in the southwest, Hettinger and Lemmon, S.D., have always been at least socially connected.

They are 25 miles apart, but share a lot of business, culture, school events and ranching.

The only other communities on the South Dakota border would be Ellendale and Frederick, S.D., which are a mere 12 miles apart but are one community as far as the locals are concerned.

For those who live in Frederick, if they want to do something on a Saturday night, they go to the big city of Ellendale with its 1,300 people. There’s also Aberdeen in the other direction, which most of us know is the third largest city in South Dakota and a regional trading hub.