Museum near Kulm damaged by fireThere were no injuries when a fire Monday morning damaged the museum at the Whitestone Hill battlefield site in western Dickey County, said an official with the Edgeley Volunteer Fire Department, who preferred to remain anonymous.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
There were no injuries when a fire Monday morning damaged the museum at the Whitestone Hill battlefield site in western Dickey County, said an official with the Edgeley Volunteer Fire Department, who preferred to remain anonymous.
The one-room museum has stone walls and floors with a wooden ceiling and support beams holding the ceiling up, which is why the official was not sure if the building was completely destroyed. The building did not have electricity at the time of the fire.
Whitestone Hill Battlefield located 23 miles southeast of Kulm, N.D., was the site of a battle in 1863 between American soldiers and American Indians, according to the North Dakota State Historical Society.
The soldiers attacked a camp of Yanktonai, some Dakota, Hunkpapa Lakota and Blackfeet (Sihasapa Lakota), as part of a military mission to punish participants of the Dakota Conflict of 1862. The battle left many Indians dead or captured with relatively light casualties on the American side, according to the NDSHS.
The museum was fully ablaze when four EVFD firefighters arrived at about 7:20 a.m., about 25 minutes after a hunter notified authorities, the official said.
A pumper truck and grass rig were on the scene for three hours, he said.
Authorities say the museum was a total loss. However, the State Historical Society sent a representative to check on the status of about 20 historical artifacts, said Chris Johnson, museum division director for the State Historical Society.
Most of the objects inside the museum include firearms, horseshoes and other artifacts relating to the battle, he said. There was also an exhibit inside of the museum including reprints of maps and photographs.
Because the site was not secure, had no electricity and there were apparently no witnesses, it was “most likely set by an unknown person,” said John Elstad, deputy fire marshal for the central region of North Dakota.
Also because the fire was allowed to burn until it was extinguished, discovering traces of an accelerant would be a challenge, Elstad said. Sampling for traces of an accelerant can’t be done on concrete or stone, he said.
“It’s a big loss for our community, it was a local landmark,” said Keith Giesler, president of the White Stone Hill Historical Society. “… It’s a sad day for our community.”
The fire is under investigation by the Dickey County Sheriff’s Office.
Anyone who may have seen anything around the area Monday morning is encouraged to call the Dickey County Sherriff’s Office at 701-328-3249, ext.1.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com