Sunday, January 25, 2009

Book Recommendation: A History of Foster County - North Dakota

Foster County Courthouse - Carrington, ND

I just want to remind everyone that there is a wonderful book, A History of Foster County - North Dakota, available at the Foster County Courthouse, as well as at the museum in Carrington.

Being a relative newcomer to the area, I only discovered it this last year, after which I had the pleasure of meeting Lucile Zink, one of the major compilers of the extensive research that went into creating this book.

For those of you who are interested in the history of Foster County and Carrington, it is a "must read!" This book is filed with fascinating details, stories, and pictures of Foster County's past. I especially liked the pictures of Carrington in its heyday and was amazed to learn that a huge lake, Lake Willow, existed along 1st Street North, where my house now stands.

All of the people who were involved in creating A History of Foster County for the 1983 Centennial should be commended for the hard work and dedication that went into making it. I'm sure many of you already have copies and have studied the book, but for those of you who missed out, it will take just a short trip to the courthouse or the museum to pick up a copy.

Can you believe you can get a copy for only $5.00?!

It's quite a buy with an attractive green and gold hardback cover and over 600 pages of interesting information and old photos of the area. It would make a great gift for friends and relatives, as well as support our local Historical Society.

Best wishes, and have a great read!
Note: This is a letter which I wrote earlier last year, which was published in the Foster County Independent as well as on CarringtonNews.Com.


  1. how would one obtain a local address for the courthouse or the historical society. would like to purchase the history of Carrington. did spend most of a summer in and around Carrington in 1955. Stayed at the rainbow gardens motel. thanks.

  2. Here's the address for the Foster County Courthouse:
    1000 5th Street North
    Carrington, ND 58421
    Phone: 701-652-2491

    The RainBow Gardens sounded like a great place to stay! There is a really interesting section in A History of Foster County - all about the Rainbow Gardens - along with photos taken when it was so popular. The motel was built by Harry and Anna Hayashi in 1930 and was a tourist attraction for many years. Here are a few quotes from A History of Foster County:
    "Harry brought to reality his dream of a garden that would remind him of his homeland, Tokyo, Japan."
    "Odd little trolls standing eighteen inches to two feet in height were found scattered throughout the rock garden."
    "Every once in a while, when the visitor least expected it, he would find another of the odd little whiskered gnomes sitting under a tree or beside a rock."
    "When the lily pond was first built, a flock of thirty pelicans tried to land..."
    "It was like a fairy land, and people came from near and far to see this beauty spot. The 28 units were always full and the crowds came, and the Gardens thrived."
    "Then things began to change. In December 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, and the United States was involved in World War II. Harry had not completed his citizenship course at the North Dakota University. So in February 1942, he was taken into custody as an alien by the Federal Officers. Later he was transferred to Fort Lincoln near Bismarck where he was detained until the day peace was declared, despite efforts of the Carrington businessmen to get him released. During Harry's absence the Gardens was closed."
    The book goes on to say that when Harry returned to Carrington, he renovated Rainbow Gardens, but by that time his health was deteriorating, so he sold his dream to Claire Ihringer.
    By the time you visited the Rainbow Gardens in 1955, it had been renovated: the dance floor was enlarged, the kitcen was modernized, the motel was refurbished with new furniture, and dances were held once a week with bands coming from all over. Would you believe that the following entertainers came to Carrington: Duke Ellington, Conway Twitty, Louie Armstrong, Jimmy Dorsey, Tiny Hill, Wayne King, Blue Barron, Buddy Murrow, and many other popular bands of that era. Did you get to see any of them while you were visiting? It sounds like the Rainbow Gardens was definitely the place to go for beauty, good food, and great entertainment! I hope you had a good stay and took away good memories of Carrington.
    Best wishes to you, and I hope you are able to get a copy of A History of Foster County. If you have problems getting a copy, just let me know, and I will make the arrangements for you.
    Sincerely, Judy Keller

  3. Anonymous,

    I talked to Andrea Scheen, the president of the local historical society. She said that you can get a copy of A History of Foster County by doing the following:
    --Send a check for $8.75 (This includes shipping and handling costs)to her (Andrea Scheen, 756 Main Street, Carrington, ND 58421)and she will send you back a copy of the book.

    This is good information to have, so I think I will put it on the Carrington News home page, so everyone knows how to order a book! Thanks again for your interest!

  4. That is so cool! Claire Ihringer is my grandfather! I never knew this!!!

  5. I'm so glad you had a chance to read about your grandfather on You never know you'll find on the Internet nowadays! I wasn't around at the time, but it sounds like your grandfather did quite a lot to improve Rainbow Gardens. Just imagine seeing someone like Louis Armstrong or Duke Ellington in Carrington! They were top entertainers in their day. By the way, you might find more information about your family in A History of Foster County. Have fun checking it out!

  6. I'd also like to add that Wes and Marie Kallberg were my grandparents and ran the Rainbow Gardens as caretakers. I know my mother talks fondly of the place and got to see many of those entertainers. I'm always looking for pictures of the Rainbow and am wondering if this book is still available. Thank you!

    1. Wow! You're lucky to have grandparents and a mom who experienced this era in Carrington. Even today I continually hear good things about the Rainbow Gardens and how much people loved it. I think the Foster County book is still available. Just give them a call 701-652-2491 to find out. By the way, thanks for visiting my blog and taking the time to comment. ~Judy Keller