PICK CITY - With Lake Sakakawea on one side, a beautiful state park on another and the famed waters of the Tailrace a short distance away, it is little wonder that Pick City is bursting at the seams.
The once tiny town has seen every available single home lot within its city limits filled. If the community is to expand, it will have to do so by acquiring nearby agricultural land.
Pick City, named after Gen. Lewis A. Pick of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was founded during the construction of Garrison Dam. Residents have long enjoyed a quiet lifestyle adjacent to massive Lake Sakakawea. Fishing is a huge draw, both on Sakakawea and the Tailrace below nearby Garrison Dam. There's plenty of hunting opportunities in the region also.
Housing in Pick City ranges from standard construction to modular or mobile homes. The town is particularly popular during the summer months.
Fishing and hunting, two pursuits well known to Pick City residents, are depicted on this “welcome” sign outside the city’s offices.
The estimated population of Pick City is around 150, but is thought to often be higher than that due to a heavy influx of people during the summer months.
"A lot of people own a place here, or a cabin, and are snowbirds in the winter," said Mayor Wilbert Harsch. "All the vacant lots in town are sold. The last one sold about four years ago. There's a little bit of talk about expansion, but it's not serious yet. We're more of a resort town with weekenders coming here to go fishing and camping."
At one time in the early 1950s Pick City boasted four schools. None are there now. Prominent businesses include Scott's Bait and Tackle, Teresa's, a gasoline and convenience store, The Dam Bar, Little's Bar and Grill, the Sakakawea Motel and the Crabapple, an ice cream store where locals and visitors often gather between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
"A local couple built that in 1994," said Brad Holtan, Beulah. "I've had it two seasons now. Actually things are pretty vibrant with some of the energy industry and just general construction around the region. We're seeing some nice traffic that way."
Holtan also operates a laundromat, car wash and RV Park in Pick City.
"It's campers, boaters and fishermen. It's all about the families," said Holtan.
Harsch says he is considering calling it quits as mayor when his term expires next year. He's served as mayor for nearly nine years and in some capacity with city government for 22 years. Pick City is governed by a four-member council. Sewer and water services the entire community. The city has its own fire department too.
"They are trying to get grants to build a brand new, five stall fire station and tornado shelter," explained Harsch. "That's important with all these campers at the state park. It would help those people out. At least they'd have some place to go."
Drive through the residential areas of Pick City and you'll see a variety of different styles of residences, from older homes and mobile home to the very new and elaborate.
"People can put on a mobile home. They are authorized to do so on any lot in town if it meets the requirements. It has to be something that's taxable," said Harsch. "Our property taxes are valued higher than Hazen or Beulah because of the recreation area we are in. One thing, we've got some room for more businesses. It wouldn't hurt at all to get some more."
For now though, residents of Pick City continue to enjoy a laid back lifestyle in one of the prime weekend destinations in all of North Dakota.