O.E. Flaten

Moorhead Historic Preservation Walking Tour

O.E. Flaten

Moorhead, Minnesota 56560, United States

Created By: North Dakota State University

Point of Interest Details

The Flaten family is from Norway. O.E. Flaten was born November 6, 1854 in Vanders Norway. He came to America at the age of seventeen. at the urging of his uncle, Ole Boe, who sent him $45 for his passage over the Atlantic. After five long weeks at sea, Flaten arrived in Quebec, Canada. From Quebec he traveled by water and stagecoach, to Northfield, Minnesota. Flaten stayed there for six years, working for the photographer John Grayton during the summer and farmers in the winter. In 1878, he moved to Minneapolis to work with another photographer, John Olson, who paid for Flaten’s move to Moorhead a year later in 1879.

O.E. Flaten

Flaten’s first studio was located on the southeast corner of First Avenue and Fourth Street South in Moorhead. About seven months after his arrival in Moorhead Flaten begun a business deal with Jacob Skrivseth to buy out Olson’s interest in the studio. They dissolved the partnership in 1881 and Flaten went into business on his own.[1] In 1884 he went into business with Ralph DeCamp and they were hired by the North Pacific Railroad to publicize their attractions. Flaten has taken over 1,500 photographs of Yellowstone National Parks on that trip.[2] His work as a photographer in Moorhead has captured Moorhead’s development from a settlement into an established city and documented several important events in the life of Moorhead and Fargo as well, from town fires, to massive floods, and changing infrastructure.

In 1880 Flatten married Ann Skrivseth, a sister to his former business partner, Jacob. They had two children, Elmer and Mamie. Ann died in 1884 and Flaten remarried in 1885 to Clara Schow. They had five children, Oscar, Dora, Clara, Arthur, and Gilbert. Flaten died in February of 1933, due to an extended illness heart disease in Moorhead at the age of 78.[3] He continued his photography business until he retired in 1930.


  1. Diary, Box 1, Folder 6, The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, Moorhead Minnesota.
  2. Mark Peihl, "Flaten Photographs First National Park," Clay County Historical Society, July 1992, ,accessed October 24, 2016.
  3. Mark Peihl, "Flaten Photographs First National Park," Clay County Historical Society, July 1992, accessed October 24, 2016.
  4. Photo from Flaten's own works, Diary, Box 1, The Historical and Cultural Society of CLay County, Moorhead Minnesota.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Moorhead Historic Preservation Walking Tour


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