The Art Work
Bill Hosko
About the Artist
The Gallery
Divide County, North Dakota
Summer 1997

Divide County lies in the far northwest corner of North Dakota. Here for about two years Bill lived part time in the long vacant ‘Elevator’ House in a near ghost town called Alkabo. When Bill rolled into town with his ‘family’, the town’s population of five rose to twenty or so.

Alkabo, pronounced Alkaybow, began in the early twentieth century along a small rail line that came in from the east, ran another eight miles to Westby on the Montana line and then perhaps another fifty before ending in another little plains town called Whitetail. Alkabo’s name was created as a cross of two words: Alkali – referring to a number of small alkali-salt lakes and wetlands in the area and for the gumbo soil. A soil that has a very sticky clay consistency when it becomes wet – in other words don’t end up on a road in the area without gravel or pavement if it begins to rain. Otherwise you will likely be sitting still for a few hours, or days.

The Elevator House received its name many years ago when it became the primary home for the man who ran the town grain elevators which once stood down along the rail line on the south edge of town. Originally, the small, but well built and designed home was the residence of the town banker. At its peak population in the 1930’s Alkabo was home to 150 or so residents. The house had electricity, but no running water or toilet. Bill would haul his water in old milk cans he filled from the old town hand pump well down near the tracks. Once his Minnesota geese became settled in Alkabo Bill showed them the four block walk down to the slough. Each morning after that they made their own way, waddling and honking down to the water. At sunset they would return to the Elevator House.

The winter of ’96-’97 was particularly cold, windy and snowy. Blizzards were common, minus twenty temperatures began in mid-November and did not end until March. One bitter cold evening after returning from his walks thru the hills with his dogs, within minutes 60 mile per hour winds came up. If he had been gone minutes longer he would have never survived the night time blizzard.

To travel back to Saint Paul, Bill would drive down to Williston 70 miles away. Here he would catch the train back to Minnesota. He enjoyed his time in that area very much and remains friends with a handful of folks tho he has now been away for nearly ten years. He found the geographic setting of the area very attractive for a ridge of glacier formed hills run thru that far corner of the state, southwest to northeast somewhat separating Elkhorn town ship in Divide County from the rest of the state. The only trees are those primarily planted by homesteaders nearly a century ago. Grasslands and wheat fields, especially on windy days, flow like an inland sea from horizon to horizon.