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History Notes: The Story Behind Amidon

by Sharon Carson

Amidon, North Dakota, the county seat for Slope County, is a town long known to drivers along Highway 85 for the life-sized but fake police officer who sat mo­tionless in an old patrol car parked along the highway at the edge of town. This of­ficer was an exceedingly compliant pub­lic employee who served for years as a low-cost speed bump.

In contrast to such a static symbol of the law, Amidon is named after Charles Fremont Amidon, a decidedly non-compliant federal judge who was born in 1856 to abolitionist parents and came to the Dakota Territory in 1882 to become the new and only high school teacher in Far­go. Amidon soon left teaching to study law in Fargo, and was ap­pointed Federal Judge for the District of North Dakota in 1897, serving in that capac­ity until 1928. He died in 1937, with an obituary in the New York Times reminding readers that Amidon “was an ardent advocate of judicial re­form, a supporter of the Constitution as a living document and a defender of the civil rights guaranteed by the Constitu­tion.”

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