Want to experience a small town with historic buildings, a saloon, and a splash of wine? Shuffle off to Buffalo, ND and check it out!
Buffalo is a small, charming, town of about 200 residents that was established in 1884. It sits a half hour drive west of Fargo and there is one main street where the majority of businesses reside. The community is largely a farming community, growing corn, soybeans, sunflowers, and wheat. And the businesses around town are locally owned. The rest of the town is comprised mostly of family homes, churches, and trees. Within the town, a couple restoration projects offer a look into the past. These include the Historic 1916 Buffalo High School and the Old Stone Church. The town also boasts a beloved “saloon” and vineyard.
The Buffalo High School, or “Old School” was constructed in 1916 and open until 1978. The building was left to degrade until the community joined together to restore it. Many young adults that grew up in Buffalo recall sneaking into and exploring the crumbling building when they were children. The rehabilitated school has a meeting room, event center, gift shop, and upstairs ballroom. Currently on the second floor, a museum of past Buffalo High School memorabilia, annuals, trophies, and clothing is set up. Along the walls sit black and white senior pictures from 1950 to 1975. The building is available for community and private events including weddings. It is available to be viewed by appointment by calling 701-412-4485.
The Old Stone Church Heritage Center (or Calvary Episcopal Chapel) is a late gothic revival style church that was build in 1885. it was restored and in 1996 added to the National Register of Historic Places along with the Buffalo High School. I also hear it is being further renovated.
Along main street, you can spot The Old 10 Saloon. It resembles an old western bar from the outside, with a more modern take inside. There’s a large bar you can pull a stool up to and get to know the bartender, tables throughout, and one wall of booths. The rest of the walls reveal plenty of rural, midwestern decor along with a fireplace. The place is family friendly and has a menu of appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, and pizza daily. There is a more extensive menu on the weekends including steaks, fish, ribs, etc. It’s the only bar for miles… and must be one of the best in quite a distance. Patrons come from towns 20+ miles away to hang out in this joint.
About 3 miles east of town sits the Red Trail Vineyard. Rodney Hogen, a Buffalo native, owns and runs the Vineyard along with his family. They planted the first grapes in 2003 and now have about 2,500 vines and 12 varieties.
The name comes from the Old Red Trail which was one of the first established trails guiding settlers through the Dakota territory. I jumped at the opportunity to stop in on a chilly day while Rodney and his son Mike were picking the Lancaster grapes off some vines just north of the house. They pick the grapes by hand, then transport them to a facility that ferments and bottles the wine before being returned to the vineyard for sale.
You can visit the Red Trail Vineyard for a tasting ($5) or a tasting/tour combo ($10). Then pick up a few bottles of your favorites to bring home. The space has an intimate tasting room, a screened in front porch, a back patio, horseshoe games, and even a gazebo.
The tasting room and gift shop are open from Memorial day weekend through September (Friday through Sunday afternoons) along with special Friday night suppers. (In rural North Dakota the evening meal is “supper”.) If you are too anxious to wait until next summer, tastings and tours are available other days by appointment. Click for more info: redtrailvineyards.com
When visiting the tasting room, take note of the picture of the famous “I Love Lucy” grape stomping scene. Years ago, a man from California was at the vineyard and pointed out that the other lady in the scene was his mother. He signed the picture.
While in the area, take a drive in any direction and check out the flat plains surrounding you. Depending on the time of year, you may see farmers working the field, stocks of corn reaching to the sky, or a sea of white snow stretching out into the distance.
And be sure to catch the sun dropping below the horizon! The flat land provides some spectacular sunsets!
If you want to spend a night or two in Buffalo, there is a full service RV park located next to the baseball diamonds and town park. The RV Park appears to only be open in the summer and early fall though. Check with them for reservations and more info: City Office: 701-633-2356 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The town also has a small grocery store and gas station/repair shop to cover your daily needs while visiting.
Wondering when to go? Each summer the community hosts “Shuffle off to Buffalo”. It is the third weekend of July. During this celebration they hold games, tractor pulls, an old car show and a parade with over 100 old cars. Celebrations began periodically at least by 1980 and hace recently become an annual event. Sounds like a perfect time to check out this charismatic community!
For more information on this town, check out www.buffalond.com