Located in Pembina County in North Dakota, Walhalla is a city that sits on the banks of the Pembina River five miles from the Canadian border. Walhalla was founded in 1871, a few decades after the German hall of fame Walhalla temple in Bavaria, Germany.
The name Walhalla is a word borrowed from a Scandinavian myth which signifies "The Paradise of the Gods" or "Happy Home". Walhalla is the second oldest town in North Dakota. Most of Walhalla's history revolves around the fur trades along the Red River. Norman Kittson, an American fur company built a trading post in Walhalla to gather the abundant furs provided by the Indians who trapped in the Pembina Hills. Another trading post was built by Antoine Gingras it was located northeast of Walhalla.
The Gingras Trading Post State Historic Site preserves the 1840s home and trading post of Metis legislator and businessman Antoine Blanc Gingras, northeast of Walhalla. Gingras was a prominent fur trader, who in 1861 claimed a net worth of $60,000 and later increased his holdings to include a chain of trading posts extending across northern Dakota Territory and southern Manitoba. Gingras's hand-hewn oak log store and home are among the few tangible remains of the fur trade in the Red River Valley.
Both buildings on Gingras State Historic Site have been restored to their original appearance. While the logs are exposed on the two-story trading post, clapboard siding covers the log structure of the house. The siding was added soon after the house was built. The house has been painted in its original historic colors, as determined by study of traces of the original paint. The exterior is deep red with white trim, and the interior reproduces the original color scheme of blue walls, yellow floors, pink ceilings, an green and brown trim. Interpretive panels and exhibits about Gingras, Metis heritage, and the fur trade are located in the restored house. Authentic reproductions of fur trade goods are sold in the Gingras store.
The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Gingras Trading Post State Historic Site
Through the 1850's and 1860's, the Indian tribes living in the are fought amongst themselves and later massacred many groups of early settlers and missionaries. One of those who were killed was Alsonzo Bernard and D.B. Spenser who brought the first printing press to the city. The mixing of early french traders and Indians created a new ethnic group called the Metis. The Metis, themselves, have a very colorful history as they struggle from their homeland of Canada as well as their lifestyles. The first black methodist church can also be found here, although currently it is used as a historical site and not a church.
Development of Walhalla continued with the arrival of farmers and railroad in the 1880's. As Walhalla is one of the earliest communities in the area, it developed the services and trade necessary to support the agricultural activities in the surrounding trade area. Today the city still functions as a trade center and is one of the most viable communities in northeastern North Dakota.