Tourism Draws Visitors to the Churches
"Tourism Draws Visitors to the Churches." North Dakota Horizons, Winter 1992.
Emmons County is enticing tourists with more than just the Welk homestead
restoration. The Greater Emmons county Tourism Council, composed of
citizens representing all the county's communities, is marketing itself
through a widely-distributed publication titled the "Emmons County
Visitors' Guide." Its pages, which include a detailed map of all the
sites, invite prospective visitors to discover the county's hunting
and fishing, its camping and park facilities, its pioneer homes, its
museum - and its beautiful churches - two of which are listed on the
National Register of Historic Places.
|Sts. Peter & Paul Church in Strasburg: Tourists
are visiting the impressive churches in Emmons County.
Rev. Leonard Eckroth, who serves as pastor of Strasburg's Sts.
Peter & Paul Catholic Church and St. Mary's Catholic Church in nearby
Hague, says the publicity is responsible for bringing more people
to see the already popular churches which tower over the rolling
prairie of Emmons County.
"Definitely, there's been more people this summer than at any
time before. Sometimes whole bus loads will stop here. I tell them,
if you're going down the road, there's another beautiful church
at Hague. They appreciate knowing that. People often comment with
"These are like churches you see in Europe."
Dominating Hague's horizon, St. Mary's Church is the oldest continuous
German-Russian Catholic parish in North Dakota, dating back to approximately
1885, when the area's first German-Russian settlers held services
in private homes. In 1890, the first St. Mary's Church, a small
wooden structure, was built southwest of Hague. Ironically it was
destroyed by fire on February 13, 1929 - Ash Wednesday. Within six
months, the cornerstone of the present day St. Mary's Church was
laid, and using much volunteer labor from church members, the $80,000
building was dedicated on June 19, 1930. Today, it is valued at
more than $1.2 million and is the pride of the town.
The first Sts. Peter & Paul Church was built in the settlement
of Tiraspol in 1893, two and a half miles northeast of present day
Strasburg, which was establish in 1902 with the coming of the railroad.
Construction of the present church was begun in 1909 and completed
in time for Christmas Eve Midnight Mass in 1911, at a cost of $45,000.
In preparation for the parish's centennial celebration in 1993
and keeping with the spirit responsible for restoring the Welk homestead,
its members are ensuring that the 80-year-old church remains in
good condition. It has undergone extensive refurbishing including
"tuck-pointing" of the bricks, repairing and re-leading the stained-glass
windows, replacing electrical wiring and installing a new sound
Rev. Eckroth often accompanies visitors through Sts. Peter & Paul,
answering questions about its ornate interior, which he considers
to be "a combination of Romanesque and Gothic architecture."
The beauty and splendor of both churches probably best summed
up by a single word one visitor to Sts. Peter & Paul wrote next
to her name in the "comments" column of the guest book: Awesome!
Reprinted with permission of North Dakota Horizons.