Who knew the Killdeer Stage Line stopped at the High Plains Cultural Center in Killdeer?
By Jennifer Strange
For the DC Herald
As of early April, the coach’s bright red body and vivid yellow wheels and wording have been greeting all who enter the center.
The historic stagecoach was donated to the Dunn County Fair Association, which operates the HPCC, by the Killdeer City Commission on April 4.
“It was a completely unanimous decision,” said City Administrator Dawn Marquart. “It was agreed that the coach should have its use someplace instead of just in closed storage where nobody could see it.”
The coach had been parked in the city’s shop on the east end of town, Marquart said. It had been used a couple times, including for Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing’s grand opening.
Killdeer rancher and Dunn County Fair Ranch Rodeo Organizer Wendell Vigen facilitated the coach’s transfer to the cultural center. “It was pushed into a corner and stuff was piling up around it, but it was all painted and ready to go,” he said.
Vigen had first set eyes on the coach at a Killdeer Fourth of July parade, pulled by Neil Hoots.
“It was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen and I just thought: I’ve got to do something with this stagecoach,” he said.
Vigen started talking to his friend, Morris “Bud” Branvick, about the idea of bringing the coach to the HPCC, where it would represent the region’s rural and ranching history. Branvick liked what he heard. Upon his passing, Branvick’s wife, Mavis, and his children, Ryan and Bruce Branvick and Sandy Hovden, turned his wish into reality by donating the funds to preserve the coach in a glass enclosure.
“We thought this would be a quite a landmark, right on the S-curve coming into town, where everyone would enjoy it,” Vigen said. “We did this because we thought it needed to be done. I just love the western way of life and this is our heritage.”
The coach’s final stop will be on the already-poured cement pad to the west of HPCC’s electronic sign. It will be preserved inside a glass enclosure and will greet every resident and visitor who drives through Killdeer.
Josh Anderson of Killdeer Mountain Contracting will provide the Dunn County Fair Board with several options for the glass enclosure, including choices in glass types and framing materials, said HPCC Executive Director Ken Roshau.
“Our goal is to have it installed by the Fourth of July,” said Roshau. “We’re excited! Now we can just say, ‘Stop at the stagecoach!’ and nobody will get lost coming to the center.”
Another goal is to adopt the coach as HPCC’s official logo, Roshau said.
Stay tuned for more information about Dunn County’s historical stage line and the Killdeer coach.