Almost 800 souls.

I love these small North Dakota farm towns, and presume enough people who live there love it as well. The town's motto: "Come to visit . . . or spend a lifetime." A rather stark choice.

No, it wasn't named after the Frenchman. The town was "founded in 1884, and named after Napoleon Goodsill, a pioneer store keeper and president of the townsite board." Shortly thereafter came the newspaper:

In 1886, George A. Bryant established the Napoleon Homestead, a newspaper business that continues to publish news and events to this day.


A town needs a paper. It was once the basic minimum requirement, a sign of civilization. Stories would been told; stories would be remembered. I don't know if they had a Soical Column; those were always popular in rural papers. They consisted of little notes detailing who went where for lunch and what they had.

And we think posting all your info on Facebook is new.

Del's has one Google Plus review and it's five stars:

The Supervalu brand has deep roots around these parts, and it's the only old brand that hung on. The company still survives, but operates through other brands in the big markets. I've no idea why they cast off a brand so well known, and I've no idea if Del's carries Supervalu-branded merchandise. Or whether such stuff even exists. It's probably just a logo on a bag now.

If this place ever closes, it'll wound the town for good.

This was the look of every small-town bank in 1975. Every single one.

I can see the architect - big sideburns, brown-and-yellow tie with a huge knot, black glasses, brimming ashtray. This was the seventh one he'd done this year. Sometimes they got the fake stone by the door; sometimes they didn't. But they all got the overhang.

This is sad, if you knew what it was.


That was Logan Auto and Implement C, something I gleaned from a painting of Main Street in its heyday, seen here on the Napoleon website. I hope they don't mind if I include an excerpt.


Whoever covered it up did it no favors.

You might be surprised to learn what this building once housed:

A movie theater. The left half, according to old images, had a sign for the Miller theater. Opened in 1928, and lasted into the 50s, according to Cinema Treasures.

The building on the right got the prefab slab-of-stone treatment, but it was probably one of those things that said "we're modernizing! Come in. And drink."

Various websites say the Downtowner is a Bar, Cafe - and HOTEL, so perhaps those second-floor rooms are put to use after all.

If they're full, there's always the Mozy Inn down the street. Unless they're full. In which case it's hunting season, friends. Don't forget your blaze orange.

Yes, it's modern, and yes, it's less maintenance, and yes, it stands up under winter weather, but it's as if your clientele is heavily vampiric and can't stand light.

On the other hand: the town has a bank and a grocery store and a drug store, so it's ahead of the game. At least in the small-town NoDak division.

Once a bank and by God still a bank.

Note how the windows were made smaller just a bit, as if the architect had miscalculated horribly and let waaaay too much light into the room.

It's never wise to cover up a carving like that. People think you're hiding something. No one ever regards the cornice carving as legally binding anymore.

Finally: the big reason the town's here.

Don't tell me "Napoleon Elevator" wouldn't make a great band name.