Proudly celebrating 70 years

First magazine

The cover of the first North Dakota Rural Electric Magazine (left) features Helge E. Nygren, then president of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, testifying before the Hoover Commission Task Force on Power and Water Resources. In 2001, the magazine was rebranded as North Dakota Living.

Proudly celebrating 70 years
Proudly celebrating 70 years
Proudly celebrating 70 years

Is it weird to celebrate 70 years?70years logo

I pondered this question myself, even floated it by colleagues and trusted advisors. Sure, celebrating 75 years may be more “standard” when it comes to marking milestones. But is it weird to celebrate 70 years of North Dakota Living?

The more I thought about it, the clearer my answer became: I really don’t care.

Not because I don’t care what others may think (I probably care about that too much), but I don’t care if it’s weird to celebrate 70 years.

As editor, I am tasked with determining which stories get covered in the magazine. It is one of the harder parts of the job. Gleaning input from cooperative folks, soliciting feedback from readers and considering current issues, events and news helps, of course.

But I will tell you what I lovingly told my dad after T9 texting his eighth story idea on my third day as editor: “There is no shortage of story ideas for the North Dakota Living magazine.”

Indeed, there are countless North Dakota stories to tell. Good stories. I wish we could tell them all.

Still, the story of this magazine – how it has evolved over 70 years and still serves North Dakota people – is one of the very best.

We hope you’ll journey with us over the next year as we proudly celebrate 70 years of North Dakota Living.


Those words were published 70 years ago, July 1954, in the first edition of the North Dakota Rural Electric Magazine, which was the original name of this publication.

At the time, electric cooperatives identified the need to tell the story of rural electrification and build support for the rural electric program. Electric cooperative leaders formed a statewide committee to study the issues of a prospective “North Dakota rural electric news” publication, as many felt one statewide magazine would be more financially feasible than numerous “local newsletters.”

In December 1953, Charles Conrad, of Conrad Publishing Co. in Bismarck-Mandan, presented ideas to the statewide board. He discussed having four “local” pages, where local cooperatives could share news and information, and suggested directors consider “how much good it is going to do for you,” rather than how much revenue the magazine could bring. Conrad also suggested a magazine would be more effective than a newspaper, and contents could include a cartoon, homemaker’s section, science, a short story, facts, the story of rural electricity and more.

By March, the board hired Blomberg as its first magazine editor, with Conrad Publishing Co. its first printer, and established the magazine’s credo: “The North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives does not support any political party, farm organization or individual. The association stands for a strong rural electric program and invites the support of any individual or group to achieve this end.”

The first issue of the magazine included a message from R. G. Harens, the executive manager of the statewide electric cooperative association.

“Now another milestone has been reached and you are holding No. 1 of Volume 1 of the North Dakota Rural Electric Magazine,” Harens said. “We chose that name because it is an organ of the association dealing with rural electric problems and information and, of course, it is a magazine.

We hope you like it, because we are so optimistic about its potential for presenting the true facts to you on a local, state and national basis. One way to keep the magazine the way you would like it is to let us know your wishes.”

And now, yet another milestone has been reached.

You are holding No. 1 of Volume 70 of the North Dakota Living magazine.

Cally Peterson is editor of North Dakota Living. She can be reached at