In 1880 the railroad reached Sentinel Butte and a mile beyond. Until 1885 Sentinel Butte was regarded as the territorial dividing line, and the railroad builders believed they had reached the Dakota-Montana border. Sentinel Butte was not a townsite until 1902.
From 1906-1910 Sentinel Butte became a booming metropolis. Settlers arrived during that time to take advantage of the free homestead land or to invest in railroad land. The city boasted nearly 800 residents and about 40 businesses. It was a business mecca, but the prosperity was short lived.
The 160-acre homesteads and low western North Dakota yields were not enough to provide a good family living on so few acres. Several years of drought left many homesteaders broke. Their credit gone, they had to leave. The growth of nearby Golva and Beach took from Sentinel Butte businesses. One after another, the businesses began to fold.
The population of Sentinel Butte is now only about 50, but it hasn't diminished in character or charm. Olson's Service Station is the only business facility in city limits; however several artisans and craftsmen reside in Sentinel Butte.
South of the city stands a flat-topped butte, Square Butte. An irregular two-crested butte north of the city is known as Camel's Hump, with a small fishing lake at its base.
The highest point, and the best known perch for a bird's-eye view of Golden Valley County is Sentinel Butte, the second highest point in North Dakota. The Sentinel Butte region abounds in moss agates of reported large sizes. The trail to the top of the butte can be driven by automobile, and once atop the butte, a half acre of level ground affords the visitor the pleasure of exploring the beauty of the area. On the butte, look closely and you will find an Indian "Kindling the Camp Fire," carving done by former County Agent J. Clayton Russell. There is also the markings of the grave of one of the sentinels on Sentinel Butte (look for cast iron markers). Stopping your vehicle at Gravity Hill on your way down gives the illusion of driving upward when in fact they are motionless and heading downward.
Old Highway 10 from Beach to Medora is a pleasurable slow-paced drive that takes travelers through Sentinel Butte. The beauty of the area, with abundant wildlife and foliage, and the beauty of the golden fields of wheat provide a relaxed view of this welcoming western North Dakota area.
PO Box 784 Beach, ND 58621