Created By: North Dakota State University
“Burbank Station was a simple log cabin on a high bank looking over the Red River some 225 feet southwest of the present American Legion building on Moorhead’s 1st Avenue North. Just who built it and when is unclear. Local historian and artist Orabel Thortvedt interviewed many early pioneers. Most agreed that Burbank Station was built by Lewis Lewiston probably in 1860.
Randolph Probstfield, Edwin Hutchinson and Adam Stein are generally recognized as the first permanent residents of Clay County, each arriving in 1859. But many other folks passed through, built a home, stayed a few years and left. Lewiston was such a person. A young Ohio native, Lewiston and his English born wife tended the station for the stage company. Lewiston may have built the cabin as a home for his family before stages started running or he might have taken it over after its previous occupant and builder left. At any rate, Burbank Station was short lived. In August 1 862 the Dakota War depopulated the Red River Valley. Lewiston and his family took refuge at Fort Abercrombie. After hostilities ended and stage travel resumed about 1864, the facility was located at Lewiston Station, 7 miles south of Moorhead. Except for an occasional squatter, Burbank Station was abandoned.
Some people have claimed that homesteader Job Smith lived in the cabin in 1870. Others suggest that Smith’s cabin was located further east, near the present Fairmont East retirement home. Levi Thortvedt, traveling with his family to a homestead northwest of Glyndon in June 1870, saw the cabin empty. "It was an old, log building of hewn logs with fairly good roof, but the door and windows were out... A lot of thick and tall weeds grew all over the west side of the house. Bullet holes could be plainly seen in the hued logs from the outside."
In 1871, Andrew Holes bought Smith’s claim for the Northern Pacific Railway on what is now downtown Moorhead. The railroad reached the Red River that fall and established Moorhead. He held onto the part of the claim occupied by Burbank Station and may have lived in the cabin for a time. The cabin on 4th Street and 4th Avenue was the long time home of the Moorhead Garden Club.
In 1878, when his own fine home was completed (where the American Legion building stands), he sold the log structure to Charles Whitcomb. A clerk in Bruns’and Finkle’s store, Whitcomb moved the cabin to a new location at the present 225 North 10th Street. He veneered the 20-inch-thick log walls with bricks (Moorhead pioneer B. F. Mackall later called it "the warmest house in the city"). Whitcomb lived there with his family until the early 1890s when he sold it to the Robert Neubarth family. The Neubarth’s remained in the home until 1931. By then it had seen better days. The Neubarth’s tore down the house to make way for a new home but knowing something of its past, they saved the logs and donated them to the city. (During the demolition, Mr. Neubarth found in the attic a gold ring and a little boy’s boot. The boot is now on display in the Moorhead section of our permanent exhibit.) In May 1932, the city turned the logs over to the recently formed Moorhead Garden Club. The Club made plans to reconstruct the cabin in Bowman Park (now part of Woodlawn Park) to serve as a clubhouse and "as a shrine to the early pioneers." Using volunteer and depression relief labor, contributions and help from the city, the foundation was in place by the end of the year and the cabin completed early in 1933. The Garden Club realized that Whitcomb’s brick exterior had kept the logs in remarkably good shape so they covered the reconstructed building with split-log siding. In a unique arrangement, the city turned administrative control of the cabin over to the Garden Club with the provision that if the Club were ever to disband, control would revert to the city. Many local residents donated artifacts to be displayed at the cabin. On May 26, 1934, 1000 people attended a dedication ceremony at the site. For years the Club held meetings, open houses and their annual peony contests there. They also rented the cabin for special events. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the city paid for the utilities and insurance on the building while the Parks Department handled maintenance. In 1951 the city rescinded the 1934 arrangement and took over the cabin.”
This point of interest is part of the tour: Moorhead Historic Preservation Walking Tour