Walsh County, North Dakota

Walsh County Historic Preservation Commission

The Walsh County Commission established the Walsh County Historic Preservation Commission (WCHPC) July 25, 1989. A seven member commission was established in order to qualify as a Certified Local Government (CLG) under the National Historic Preservation Act as amended in 1980.

Commission Members
Agatha Frisby, Chair

Dennis Markusen, Vice Chair

Jon McMillan

Bernice Flanagan

Brenden (B.J.) Brazil

Jean Bodmer

Tracy Laaveg

Shannon Brazil

Contact:  Tracy Lavaag, Coordinator ([email protected])


Our Purpose

The WCHPC advises the Walsh County Commission and its residents on matters of preservation and ensures that the preservation of the history of Walsh County is considered at all levels of local government. The purpose and declaration of the Walsh County ordinance establishing the WCHPC is as follows:

  1. The purpose of this ordinance is to promote historic districts and landmarks for the educational, cultural, economic, and general welfare of the public through the preservation, protection, and regulation of buildings, sites, monuments, structures, and areas of historic interest or importance within the County of Walsh; to safeguard the heritage of the County by preserving and regulating historic landmarks and districts which reflect elements of its cultural, social, economic, political and architectural history; to preserve the County’s economic base by the stimulation of the tourist industry; to establish and improve property values; to foster economic development; to manage growth; to foster civic pride in the beauty and noble accomplishments of the past; and to promote the use of historic districts, landmarks, interior landmarks, and scenic landmarks for the education, pleasure, and welfare of the people of Walsh County.
  2. It is intended that the WCHPC will cooperate with and assist various local, state, and federal entities and/or agencies in the enforcement of federal and state legislation to identify, evaluate, designate, and protect properties significant in the pre-history, history, architecture, engineering, and culture of the community, state, and nation.
  3. It is further declared that the purposes of this article are:
    1. With respect to the properties in historic districts:
      1. To retain and enhance those properties which contribute to the character of the historic district and to encourage their adaptation for current use.
      2. To assure that alteration of existing structures are compatible with the character of the historic district; and
      3. To assure that new construction and sub-division of lots in an historic district are compatible with the character of the historic district.
    2. With respect to historic landmarks:
      1. To retain and enhance historic landmarks in the County of Walsh and to encourage their adaptation for current use; and
      2. To encourage restoration of historic landmarks.

How Can I Benefit?

The WCHPC works to provide educational opportunities for the citizens of Walsh County to learn about the importance of preservation. The WCHPC sponsors public education programs to audiences in Walsh County about the importance of preservation.

The WCHPC also collaborates with its counterpart in Pembina County to disseminate information through a joint brochure that highlights sites placed on the National Register of Historic Places and other historic sites of interest. These brochures are distributed via the ND Department of Transportation/ND Tourism Division Rack Program which makes the brochures available at all rest stops in North Dakota. The WCHPC also collaborates with the Pembina County Historic Preservation Commission in the Pembina Walsh Historic Trail geocaching program (see further information below).

In addition, any individual, family, or organization that owns historic property in Walsh County is eligible for assistance in preservation of the property. The WCHPC can assist in listing properties on the National Register of Historic Places, provide technical and cultural resources for preservation, and may also apply for grant funds to assist in restoration projects.

Where Do the Funds Come From?

The WCHPC operates with Federal funds from the National Park Service, a division of the United States Department of Interior, and administered by the State Historical Society of North Dakota.  The contents and opinions, however, do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the United States Department of Interior or the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Regulations of the U. S. Department of the Interior strictly prohibit unlawful discrimination in departmental Federally Assisted Programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, age or handicap.  Any person who believes she or he has been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility operated by a recipient of Federal assistance should write to: Director, Equal Opportunity Program, National Park Service, Department of Interior, 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop 2652, Washington, DC 20240.

The Red River Regional Council (RRRC), one of eight regional planning councils in North Dakota, was established in 1973 to enhance the ability of local governments to jointly plan, address issues, and seize opportunities that transcend individual boundaries. The council provides administrative support to the WCHPC. Funds used as match to the federal funds provided by the State Historical Society come from the dues paid by the Walsh County Commission to the RRRC and in-kind services and goods provided by WCHPC members and volunteers.

When Does the WCHPC Meet?

The WCHPC meets quarterly and at other times as needed in order to facilitate programs. Unless otherwise noted in public notices placed in the Walsh County Record, all meetings are held in the Chase Building, 516 Cooper Ave, Suite 101, Grafton ND. As required, all meetings are posted and minutes of our meetings are available from the RRRC (www.redriverrc.com). Please contact the coordinator, Cheryl Osowski, or any member for information on an upcoming meeting. For more information about historic preservation and the WCHPC, check out the following websites:



Geocaching is a world-wide treasure hunting game where containers are hidden and then posted on the web with their GPS coordinates along with brief, sometimes cryptic, descriptions and clues. The game is tracked online when the users locate the cache and sign the logs found in the small containers and then post their finds on the website. Some caches are informational only without any containers where you must solve a clue and then post the answers online for the cache owner to review.

The Walsh and Pembina County Historic Preservation Commissions have collaborated in establishing the Pembina Walsh Historic Trail (PWHT) – a group of 15 geocaches at historic places in both counties. Geocachers who find at least five caches in a county can be rewarded with a commemorative coin after registering their finds on a PWHT passport. More detailed information about geocaching can be found on their website at www.Geocaching.com/Guide, Also, keep watching the Red River Regional Council’s website at www.redriverrc.com and their Facebook page for more current information.

Pembina Walsh Historic Trail – Geocaching Project

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. The Walsh and Pembina Historic Preservation Commissions (HPC’s) want to capitalize on this new and exciting pastime, taking advantage of the popularity of using GPS technology to tell the story of the historic sites in both counties.

The HPC’s have collaborated with existing tourism entities in each county to educate residents and visitors of the goals of historic preservation. Their new goal is to increase the marketing potential of the existing preserved historic sites caches by adding up to 25 geocaching sites in both counties at proposed National Register sites, current National Register sites, sites of historic significance, cemeteries, and near the Red River Oxcart Trails. Geocaches will be placed at historic sites and landmarks and will also be used to mark historic trails.

To achieve this end, the Pembina and Walsh HPC’s have joined forces to establish the Pembina/Walsh Historic Geotrail. Geocaches have been placed at various sites in both counties and a trail passport has been devised for beginner and avid geocachers to track their visits to these sites and acquire a free geocoin as a reward. Pathtags and logbooks will also be utilized to monitor activity at the sites and to reward visitors to the sites. Local tourism or historic site trinkets will also be included in some of the geocaches. Specialized GPS Units will be purchased for use by those without smart phone capabilities. The specialized units can be checked out at Icelandic State Park, west of Cavalier, ND for use by geocachers.

How do I get started on the Pembina/Walsh Geotrail?

The only necessities are a GPS device or a GPS-enabled mobile phone so that you can navigate to the cache, and a free Geocaching.com Membership at www.geocaching.com  There is a wealth of information about geocaching on this website. If you want to download a GPS application to your smart phone, we recommend loading GPS Essentials. Once you have registered at geocaching.com, do a search for caches in Pembina and Walsh counties. Those on the trail will be labeled as PWHT geocaches. Read the description and GPS location of the geocache(s) and start your treasure hunt! To track your progress on the PWHT and to lay claim to a Pembina HPC or Walsh HPC pathtag, you need to download the PWHT passport at http://www.redriverrc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/passport-v.2.pdf . When you find a geocache at a trail site, you must write down the passport code found inside or on the geocache, the date you found the geocache, and the GC code. Once you have found at least five (5) geocaches in one county, you can claim your pathtag by mailing your passport complete with site, date and GC code, along with your name and mailing address to the address noted on the passport. The passports can also be dropped off at the Pembina County Museum, Icelandic State Park, or Red River Regional Council. Remember, to get your pathtag, you must provide a name and mailing address. Once you get your pathtag reward, you may also log it in at www.pathtags.com The pathtag serial number is on the back of the coin!

Have a great time and tell us about your PWHT experience when you log your visits on geocaching.com or pathtags.com. If you have questions, please contact us at [email protected]


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National Trust for Historic Preservation

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The WCHS would like to create an online extension of the Walsh Heritage 4-volume biographies If you would like to add your Walsh County family to this publication...CLICK HERE!

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