Developers bring bush living to N.D. prairie
An AP member exchange The Forum CHRISTINE, N.D. -- Overlooking a nearby grain field sits a 5,000-square-foot log home surrounded by man-made ponds, walking trails and life-sized wildlife sculptures -- eagles, bear, elk, deer, buffalo and wolves. ...
An AP member exchange
CHRISTINE, N.D. -- Overlooking a nearby grain field sits a 5,000-square-foot log home surrounded by man-made ponds, walking trails and life-sized wildlife sculptures -- eagles, bear, elk, deer, buffalo and wolves.
Over the next decade, Mark and Gary Nelson want to bring a little bit of wilderness to the North Dakota prairie. They plan to build up to 50 log homes on a 400-acre stretch of oxbows skirting the Red River on plats named White Tail Meadows, Gooseland, Turkey Run, South Fork, Buck Horn Point, Sleepy Hollow and Buffalo Head.
The development about 14 miles south of Fargo and 3 1/2 miles south of Oxbow will consist of lots ranging from 2 acres to 9 acres and homes ranging from 1,800 square feet on up, said Mark Nelson, president and CEO of Log Homes Unlimited.
"We build for anybody's budget," said his father, Gary Nelson, who with his wife, Ina Fae, launched Nelson Land Development LLC in 2001 after doing residential and commercial construction and basement repair in the Fargo-Moorhead area for 43 years.
Over the years, he purchased property in several states -- Colorado, Montana, Arizona, Georgia, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota -- and began building housing and commercial developments.
Four model homes have been built for potential customers to view in the Christine development. All of the lots are above the 500-year flood line.
The price of the log homes is comparable to conventional homes, Gary Nelson said.
"This is something I always liked -- going back into the olden days," he said while showing a model home with five fireplaces and five bathrooms.
A chuck wagon serves as a pantry in the kitchen, capped by a copper ceiling. A large-screen TV projects from the rear of a living-room-placed stagecoach. American Indian and Western art adorn walls, shelves and shadow boxes.
Blended in is a mix of wildlife decor -- snowshoes propped against a den wall and a 4-foot-tall, wood-carved raccoon holding a roll of toilet paper in a main-floor bathroom.
"We're not looking to build eight to 10 homes in one year," Gary Nelson said. "We feel this project is going to take eight to 10 years."
Gary Nelson was born and raised on a farm in the Argyle-Stephen area of northwestern Minnesota. When he was 8, his grandfather, John Nelson, pulled up stakes and headed to the Canadian wilderness, homesteading near Calgary, Alberta.
"He was a lumberjack," Nelson said. "He built a log cabin in the bush. You had to shovel your way in and shovel your way out.
"I remember the door knobs were made out of thread spools. All of the cabinets were double apple boxes hung on the walls," he said.
As a youngster, Nelson was fascinated by pictures of mountains. "I loved the mountains. I wanted to be a mountain man and trapper," he said. After his family moved to Thief River Falls, Minn., he learned to trap, selling animal hides to buy cattle.
"I had more cattle than my dad did," he said.
Gary Nelson built his first log home about 30 years ago in Montana. "It was at the end of the trail right up against the Bob Marshall," said Mark Nelson, referring to the 1 million-acre wilderness area 75 miles west of Great Falls.
"We've got 18 ranchettes going in Colorado right now," Mark Nelson said. Each one sits on a 35-acre parcel with 7,000 feet of lakeshore access on Ground Hog Reservoir in the Rocky Mountains, 9,500 feet above sea level and 30 miles north of Delores.
Gary Nelson recently turned over Nelson Land Development LLC to son Mark and now plans to restructure the 15-hour days he'd spent in the construction business.
"It's time now to slow down and do a little fishing," he said.