PALERMO - Beware the pirate ship on the prairie! The cannon are at the ready. Flying atop the mast is the Jolly Roger, the seafaring symbol that no quarter will be given.
The crow's nest is empty. No pirates can be seen, but there sits a pirate ship. The question is, what the heck is that thing doing in the middle of a pasture in North Dakota?
Undoubtedly many drivers ask themselves the same question when passing by on U.S. Highway 2 a mere four miles east of Stanley, which is three miles west of Palermo. Many drivers do a double-take, then slow down to make sure of what they are actually seeing.
Arrr! A most unusual site, a pirate ship on the prairie. With no pirates around to tell the tale, the origin of the “ghost” ship provides motorists with a puzzling mystery.
It's a ship alright. There it sits, landlocked atop a hill in pasture land on the south side of the highway. It is a very unusual site, but a good looking ship it is. The craft boasts two masts, a large anchor, cannon and a raised rear deck. It has the unmistakable outline of the great ocean-going vessels piloted salty scoundrels like Blackbeard and Calico Jack.
Arrrrr! It just can't be. Shiver me timbers! Well mate, put down your bottle of rum and look again, otherwise ye might just be destined for Davey Jones' locker.
North Dakota is known for the placement of strange items along roadways that capture the attention of motorists, but a pirate ship? This state has seen everything from huge gorillas to massive cows to over-grown sandhill cranes. Oh, there's plenty of old threshing machines posted on hilltops too. The southwest even has the Enchanted Highway, a section of road lined with huge metal fish, pheasants and grasshoppers that grab the attention of thousands of visitors annually.
However, the only pirate ship around is found in the Randy Peterson pasture. Close inspection reveals an unusual set of wheels and the gooseneck at the front looks very similar to a fifth-wheeled trailer. Uggh!
As it turns out, the pirate ship first sailed in a Fourth of July parade in Stanley earlier this year. The unique float was constructed by Randy Peterson at the request of employees of Stanley's Beach Bar, which is owned by Randy and Tammy Peterson.
"My husband took a couple of months to put it together. We even had smoke bombs inside the cannons so it looked like they had just been fired," said Tammy Peterson. "It was just so cool that we put it up on the hill so people could check it out."
That's the tale of how the ship's maiden voyage ended in the Peterson pasture. Tammy Peterson says the grandkids love to play on the ship and that it will soon be moved off the hill to a location nearer the farm home. For now though, gawkers and nonbelievers alike get a free view of a very unusual site, even for North Dakota.