Courtesy photo

Highway 16 Brings Business Boom to Murdo

Once again we take at trip  down memory lane with Richard Nix and Dave Geisler. The last journey we went on with these two Murdo men was down Old-Old Highway 16 - which ran down 2nd Street past Moore’s Building Center and First Fidelity Bank. This week they talk about the Highway 16 we know now (5th Street) and how it brought a boom of business to Murdo in the 1940s and 50s.
“It was no accident that Highway 16 came through Murdo”, states Dave Geisler. “many people traveled to the Highway Department in Pierre to lobby for the new highway because they knew it would benefit Murdo heavily. And it did. It became the life-blood of our town.” Among the lobbyists for the highway were Frank McCurdy, Walter Prahl, Willard Burns, Dan Parrish, Hugo Boyson, Billy Graham, Jack Powell, and A.J. Geisler.
The highway was built in the early 1950s It inspired folks to buy land along that stretch and create businesses that would support the travelers passing through.Frank McCurdy, Billy Graham, Hugo Boysen, A.J. Geisler, and Art Wood were a few of those entrepreneurs.
Beginning on the far east side of Murdo was the Indian Museum owned and operated by Floyd Elwell.
Walter Prahl built Skellys gas station where Agtegra sits currently, in 1950. Inside the station was Fern’s Cafe (which later became Norma’s Cafe). Walter was later active in the association that brought Highway 83 to Murdo.
John Deere and Chevrolet Dealership, built by in 1951, and owned by A.J. Geisler, was located at the present-time Pioneer Hallmark Store. The Frosty Freeze cozied up to the dealership to the west and was ran by Roma Geisler, A.J.’s daughter.
Frank Hawkins also built Zoart Court, Philips 66, and the original John Deere Dealership (currently the storage units on 5th Street) in Murdo.
A little further west Frank McCurdy erected the Sioux Motel. This was later sold to Fred Wheeler who in turn sold it to Clarence and Richard Hullinger who developed a cafe and campground in addition to the motel.
Art and Zo Zickrick, who previously owned the Murdo Hotel, created the Zoart Motel which is today’s Anchor Inn. Next door to the Zoart was Highway 16 Cafe, built by Dan Parrish and Frank McCurdy.
On the north side, Arlyn and Hugo Boysen built the Murdo Motel, which is now the Iversen Inn. Hugo also operated the Standard Station situated where First National Bank is today.
The Murdo Family Foods building was constructed by Art and Larry Nelson who ran a grocery store named Super Value.
A drug store, built by Jack Mowell, sat where the antique store is -  across the street west of  BankWest.
Elmer Weber’s Texaco Station was directly north of Super Value. All of the Texaco products were supplied by local Ed Iverson. Over the years Elmer leased the station to Jim McKillip, Jim Strait, and Paul Nix.
A little further west of the Texaco Bill and Loretta Francis built the Chalet Motel located where Range Country Lodging stands now.
During the latter part of the 1950s, Bob Volmer built a John Deere Dealership northeast of where the Buffalo Bar is located.
Don’s Diner was erected and that later became the Buffalo Restaurant.
Next door to the dealership Anfrin Haugland welcomed passers-through by building a restaurant and a Conoco gas station which was later on run by Don Reinhert. 
Meanwhile, in uptown Murdo a drug store, Thune Hardware, the elevator, First Fidelity Bank, and Iversen Oil thrived. The “Magic City” also boasted five places to buy farm fuel. Shortly after the “new” Highway 16 was built, the time zone between Central and Mountain Time was moved from running down the middle of Main Street to west of Murdo. 
Highway 16 brought business opportunities galore for the locals in the 1950s. Gas stations, hotels, restaurants, and drug stores brought neighboring townsfolk and travelers to town and  created a booming economy in Murdo.
Coming up next month in the Murdo Coyote, we’ll learn about some of the political issues Murdo was facing in the 1950s. Locals began to rally to accomplish the following:
•have the “courthouse road” paved due to it being impassable when it rained.
•invest in a water and sewer system
•build an auditorium in Murdo


The Pioneer Review

221 E. Oak Street
Philip, SD 57567
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