Plains Folk

The Archives

Plains Folk, a commentary devoted to life on the great plains of North America, is now a special weekly feature on Main Street. Written by Tom Isern of West Fargo, North Dakota, and read in newspapers across the region for years, Plains Folk venerates fall suppers and barn dances and reminds us that “more important to our thoughts than lines on a map are the essential characteristics of the region–the things that tell what the plains are, not just where they are.” You can hear Plains Folk once a week during Main Street, weekdays at 3 pm CT with a repeat at 7 pm CT.

To read more Plains Folk commentaries, click on the “archives” link.

Recent Shows

  • Like Father, Like Son

    Nobody pointed out the easy button to Julius Sgutt when he arrived in North Dakota from Romania, within the Russian Empire, in 1896. He came by way of New York City and Minneapolis and Perham, where he married Annie Evedovitz, recently come from Russia. They would have two children, Emanuel and Miriem.   In 1896 […]

  • Brands, Earmarks, and Waddles

    There is a cachet to livestock brands. When you see them blazed into boards hung in your local bar and grill, you feel you are situated in a storied place. You see a brand book in the courthouse, and you want to pull it down and pore over it. Brands are symbols of identity that […]

  • Wire that Fenced the West

    Too good a bargain to pass up, was my thought when I spotted a copy of The Wire that Fenced the West priced at five dollars in a used bookstore. I bought the book, a minor classic by Henry D. and Frances McCallum (University of Oklahoma Press, 1965).   McCallum was a petroleum geologist for […]

  • Open Range

    Now and then, driving across the plains, I spot a devil’s lane. Every one of them has a story involving particular people and particular circumstances. Every one, too, is a manifestation of something we have in common all over the prairies, from Alberta to North Dakota to Kansas to Texas.   What the heck is […]

  • Counting Coup

    We call him Kippy the Keystone Bear. He’s a big thing. He stands back on the alley west of Highway 3 in Dawson, North Dakota. I can’t see how I’ve missed him before, because like I said, he’s a big thing—meaning a roadside monstrosity intended to attract custom. He stands about fourteen feet tall. He’s […]

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