Striking Our Memories

Photo courtesy of the Adams County Record

The sound of bowling balls rumbling down a lane, the clattering of the pins, and the sounds of people talking, laughing, and cheering has been a vivid memory in citizens’ minds ever since the community’s bowling alley closed. What was once a thriving business has dwindled to nothing over the past few years.

Mason DeFoe
For The Record

    Bowling became a preferred activity for the people residing in Hettinger and the surrounding areas on September 5, 1950, when Al Cors opened up the prestigious bowling alley in Hettinger, North Dakota. The bowling alley was located in the current Prairie Rose Floral building on Main Street. This bowling alley consisted of four lanes which were recognized as some of the best around at this time, locker rooms, a shoe rental service, and a snack bar near the front of the building. The snack bar sold lunches, soft drinks, ice cream, candy, cigarettes, and cigars. Installing the lanes was the Brunswick-Balke-Collander Company based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. According to the Adams County Record, the alleys were equipped with Brunswick automatic ball returners and semi-automatic pinsetters. When not bowling, people could enjoy the new and comfortable maple wood seats.  At this time, Hettinger had one of the best bowling alleys around. The bowling alley kept people busy and was a great attraction for the town. There was just one problem: the building could not support the number of people who wanted to bowl. The issue of not having enough space would lead to a new bowling alley in a different part of town.

    During the month of September in 1961, Bob Shapland and Lyle Walby opened the new bowling alley, Flaming Lanes, on South Seventh Street where the bowling alley still sits today. This bowling alley was much larger than the old bowling alley and had better bowling technology. The building had eight new, modern lanes compared to the four lanes the other building offered. Along with the eight new lanes, the building had telescores, automatic pinsetters, under-lane ball returners, and a twenty-two stool lunch counter. The lunch counter was not only a popular place to eat for bowlers, but also a convenient place to eat for students during the school year, as many high school students would enjoy freshly baked caramel rolls for lunch. Just as the old bowling alley, bowling at Flaming Lanes was a favorite activity for people to participate in.

    Throughout the years, the bowling alley has been owned and operated by many different people. Jeff and Iva Carter owned and operated the business briefly until Bob and Lois Hanson purchased the building in 2003. They changed the name from Mirror Lake Lanes to Lakeview Sports Bar. At this time, bowling was not as popular within the community. Unfortunately, Lakeview Sports Bar closed its doors in January of 2007. Later, Curt Dahl purchased the building and did many renovations hoping to increase the popularity of bowling in the community once again. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned and the bowling alley closed for the final time in 2015.

    The past couple of years, many people have talked about wanting the bowling alley to open back up, as there may not always be something to do in the small town of Hettinger. In October of 2018, the Executive Director of the Hettinger Chamber of Commerce and Adams County Development Corporation, Jasmin Fosheim, proclaimed they received a $28,000 USDA feasibility study grant for the bowling alley. This grant would be to look into the bowling alley and see what it would take to fix it up. It would allow the development corporation to see what the best thing to do with the bowling alley would be.

    While bowling in Hettinger has not been an option for people over the last five years, the memories of bowling have not faded. Bowling would give people in and around Hettinger something to do. With the help of the community, maybe Hettinger can get its bowling alley back up and running.