Town of the Year St. Thomas Has Friendly Atmosphere While Preserving Its History
ST. THOMAS, N.D. – St. Thomas is a town of just over 300 people in the northern end of the Red River Valley. Population wise it’s about half of what it was 60 years ago.
“We had a Chevrolet dealer across the street there, an International dealer, a John Deere dealer, three good profitable bars I think. People were thirsty then,” Ralph Smith said.
And while Main Street doesn’t have anywhere near the stores it once had, there is a lot of life still pumping through this town. In fact if you want a haircut at TL Haircare you can’t get one, unless you’re an existing customer. Too much business to accept new ones.
Despite the low population St. Thomas still has its own school. With about 60 students pre-k to 12th grade. Technology allows students to take classes in things like advanced science and Spanish through distance learning.
The small class size gives a lot of one-on-one interaction, though there is also a downside for some.
“Everybody hears everything real quick. But you stay in line that way I guess,” Student Isiah Dominguez said.
At the Josephine Garnett Home, they are working on preserving the rich history of the people that have live in St. Thomas. The space can be rented for weddings and get-togethers. It’s not only about preserving the past but it’s also about the future of the town.
“I had wonderful memories growing up here and I want to create them for all the kids in town and we can do it,” Preservation Board Deanna Larson said.
And it a town this small people have to step forward to take on roles that might be filled by the government in larger towns.
“The infrastructure is a responsibility of the direct effort of people of this community,” Duane Little John said.
St. Thomas has an active community club that supports the many projects from the cafe to new equipment in the school and it doesn’t end there.
“So, just the efforts of the streets and everything we did, the water system, it’s all a result of all volunteerism. No kidding,” Little John said.
With that volunteer spirit St. Thomas is not only looking to stick around but begin to grow again and they may have one other thing working in their favor.
“Cause us St. Thomas people are stubborn I guess,” Smith said.