SHSND Home > Archives > Archives Holdings > Photographs > Collections > 00981

OCLC WorldCat Logo

Digital Horizons

Federal Depository Library Program

Photographs - Collections - 951-1000 - #00981

Title: USS North Dakota at Panama Canal

Dates: 1918-1919

Collection Number: 00981

Quantity: 50 items

Abstract: Images of the USS North Dakota and its crew, the Panama Canal, and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands belonging to Boyd Mathieu of Ellliott, N.D. who served on the battleship during WWI.

Provenance: The State Historical Society of North Dakota acquired this collection from Burtis Mathieu in October 1992.

Copyrights: Copyrights to materials in this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs. Researcher should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94‑553, Title 17 U.S. Code and an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.

Access This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection name, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.

Historical Sketch

USS North Dakota (BB-29), named for the State of North Dakota, was by the Fore River Shipbuilding Company, Quincy, Massachusetts. Her keel was laid 16 December 1907. She launched 10 November 1908, under the sponsorship of Miss Mary Benton, daughter of Colonel John Benton, Fargo, North Dakota. The battleship commissioned in the Boston Navy Yard 11 April 1910, Commander Charles P. Plunkett, USN, commanding.

North Dakota had a length overall of 518 feet, 9 inches; extreme beam, 85 feet, 3 inches; normal displacement of 20,000 tons; mean draft 26 feet, 11 inches; designed speed of 21 knots; and a designed complement of 55 officers and 878 men. She was originally armed with ten 12-inch .45 caliber guns; fourteen 5-inch .50 caliber guns; and two 21-inch submerged torpedo tubes. The maximum thickness of her armor was 12 inches. She was the first United States battleship to be fitted with turbine engines.

North Dakota departed Boston 1 August 1910 for shakedown training along the New England coast and off the Virginia Capes. After alterations in the New York Navy Yard, she sailed with the First Division 2 November 1910 for Portland, England; Cherbourg, France; thence to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for winter-spring maneuvers in the Caribbean Sea. She returned north to Norfolk 17 March 1911 and after repairs to her turbines at New York, witnessed the experimental firing on the hulk of San Marcos (ex-battleship Texas) in Tangier Sound, Chesapeake Bay 27-28 August 1911. There were repeated tactics and maneuvers north to the New England Coast until 5 June 1912 when she entered Annapolis Roads to embark Midshipmen for the summer practice cruise off Provincetown, Newport, and New York. After a visit to Charleston, South Carolina (17-24 November 1912) she sailed north to New York. On 1 January 1913 she came off Tomkinsville, forming a unit of honor escort for HMD Natal who entered the North River with the body of the late United States Ambassador to Brazil, Whitlaw Reid.

On 3 January 1913, North Dakota departed New York for winter-spring maneuvers in the Caribbean. After calling at Colon, Panama to let her men inspect the nearly completed Panama Canal, she spent the following months out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She returned to Norfolk 25 March 1913, ranging north in tactics and maneuvers with the Fleet off the New England Coast. She again sailed practice cruise which took her to Newport, New York and Eastport, Maine. After debarking the midshipmen at Annapolis 24-25 August, she was overhauled in the New York Navy Yard (21 September 1913-19 April 1914). She then got underway to support the occupation forces in waters off Vera Cruz and Tuxpan, Mexico until 8 October 1914. Returning to Norfolk from the Coast of Mexico 16 October 1914, she cruised as far north as New York before repairs in the Norfolk Navy Yard (26 November 1914-16 January 1915).

North Dakota departed Norfolk 21 January 1915 for winter-spring Fleet maneuvers and war games in the Caribbean Sea, returning to Norfolk 12 February 1915. After tactics and battle practice along the New England Coast out of Newport, she was placed in reserve at Philadelphia 1 July 1915. She remained in reserve at the Philadelphia Navy Yard until 21 February 1917 when she passed into Tangier Sound, Chesapeake Bay, for several weeks of target practice, gunnery drills and tactics. She was on that duty the afternoon of 6 April 1917 when she received notice by radio that a state of war existed between the United States and Germany.

Throughout World War I, North Dakota served as a gunnery and engineering training ship, based alternately in the York River and at New York. Following the signing of the Armistice, she departed New York 9 December 1918, enroute for winter-spring Fleet maneuvers and battle practice in the Caribbean. After a mission to load submarine stores at Balboa, Panama Canal, she came into Guantanamo Bay, her base for maneuvers and war games until return to New York 14 April 1919. Fleet exercises and tactis along the eastern seaboard from the Virginia Capes north to Provincetown, Boston, New London and New York, filled the following months. She sailed from New York 3 October 1919 on a training cruise to Cuba 30 October, returning to Norfolk 30 October.

On 13 November 1919, North Dakota put to sea from Norfolk to transport the remains of the Late Italian Ambassador to the United States to Naples, Italy, where she arrived 4 December 1919. After cruising with the First Battleship Division, Third Squadron to Athens, Greece, and Constantinople, Turkey, she called at Valencia, Spain and Gibraltar. Departing the latter port 30 January 1920, she sailed for winter-spring maneuvers which took her to Barbados, British West Indies; Colon, Panama; and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She returned north to New York 2 May 1920 and briefly cruised with Naval Academy Midshipmen off the Virginia Capes before overhaul in the New York Navy Yard (27 June 1920=9 December 1920).

After a stay in Boston, the battleship sailed 3 January 1920 for battle practice out of Guantanamo Bay, thence in combined Fleet maneuvers through the Panama Canal and down the western seaboard of the Central Americas to Callao, Peru. After further Fleet tactics out of Guantanamo Bay, she returned to Boston 30 April 1921. A unit of the 5th Division, Third Squadron, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, North Dakota cruised along the eastern seaboard south to the Virginia Capes until 5 June 1922 when she sailed from Annapolis on a midshipmen summer practice cruise that took her to the Panama Canal; St. Kitts, British West Indies; Culebra, Puerto Rico; thence north to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and back south to the Virginia Capes. She returned to Annapolis 30 August 1922 and repaired in the Boston Navy Yard (19 November 1922-3 January 1923).

North Dakota departed Boston 3 January 1923 for maneuvers in the Caribbean until return to Boston 27 April. After embarking men at Annapolis, she sailed 9 June 1923 on a summer practice cruise that included calls at Copenhagen, Denmark; Goteborg, Sweden; Greenock, Scotland; Cadiz, Spain; thence to Guantanamo Bay. She debarked the midshipmen at Annapolis 18 August 1923. Here, the battleship embarked naval reservist for a 15-day training cruise to Havana, Cuba, returning to Charleston, 20 September 1923

North Dakota entered the Norfolk Navy Yard 25 September 1923 and decommissioned there 22 November 1923. She remained inactive until her name as struck from the Navy List 7 January 1931. She was sold for scrapping 16 March 1931.

Source: Navy Department. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. Naval History Division, Ships’ Histories Section

Biographical Sketch
From the Lisbon Free Press, Thursday December 24, 1936

Boyd Griffin Mathieu was born at Sanborn, N.D., Feb. 28, 1898. He attended high school at Crary, N.D. following which he spent considerable time surveying through the mountainous section of Montana, in the service of the U.S. Government. He left that work after the outbreak of the World War to enlist in the Navy, being then 19 years of age. He was assigned to the U.S. Naval Training Station of San Francisco, and later transferred to the Naval Radio Training School at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. At the conclusion of his radio training, he was assigned to duty on the battleship North Dakota, and later to the battleship Minnesota. He saw service in both foreign and American waters. He was awarded the Victory Medal, a token given to those of the Navy who participated in engagements and campaigns, deemed worthy of such commemoration. He received his final discharge on April 15, 1919.

At the conclusion of his service, he joined with his father in the mercantile business in Elliott and assumed active charge of the business. In 1926 he was appointed postmaster at Elliott, which office he held up to the date of his untimely death, which occurred Sunday evening, Dec. 20, 1936. He had reached the age of 38 years, nine months and 22 days. He was a member of lodges at Lisbon, and for years had been a loyal and active member of Florence Kimball Post of the American Legion.

Boyd Griffin Mathieu leaves behind him to mourn his loss his parents, Mr. and Mrs. F. A. Mathieu, two brothers Byron and Burton, all of Elliott, and three sisters, Mrs. E. E. Annerson and Mrs. Larson, both of Minneapolis, and Mrs. R. N. Hurst of Bandon, Ore.

Funeral services were held Saturday afternoon from Trinity Lutheran church Rev. J. A. Fjelstad officiating. It was a military funeral, the Service Company detailing a firing squad and bugler, and members of the company were in attendance. Interment was made in Oakwood cemetery.

Boyd Mathieu enlisted in the Navy at Salt Lake City, Utah, on Nov. 22, 1917; served at Naval Training Station, San Francisco, Calif., to Feb. 1, 1918; Harvard Radio School, Cambridge, Mass., to July 13, 1918; USS Minnesota, to Oct. 1, 1918; USS North Dakota, to Nov. 11, 1918. Grades: Apprentice Seaman, 231 days; Electrician 3rd Class, Radio, 123 days. Discharged at New York, N. Y., on April 15, 1919, as an Electrician 2nd Class, Radio.

Source: Roster of the Men and Women Who Served in the Army or Naval Service (including the Marine Corps) of the United States of its Allies from the State of North Dakota in the World War, 1917-1918. Vol. I-IV. Bismarck, ND, USA: Bismarck Tribune Co., 1931.


00981-01 – 03     Men on deck of the USS North Dakota in the Panama Canal
00981-04              Two of the 12 inch guns on the USS North Dakota
00981-05 – 06     USS North Dakota in the Panama Canal showing men on deck
00981-07 – 08     Gatun locks in the Panama Canal
00981-09              Leaving Miraflores lock in the Panama Canal
00981-10              Gatun locks in the Panama Canal
00981-11              USS North Dakota at the Pedro Miguel locks in the Panama Canal
00981-12              USS North Dakota at Pier 18, Balboa, Panama
00981-13              USS North Dakota
00981-14              USS North Dakota in North River, N.Y.
00981-15              USS North Dakota at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
00981-16              USS North Dakota 16 big guns
00981-17              USS North Dakota view from the bow
00981-18              USS North Dakota observing a few hits. Sign reads: Division Practice Tow Line 400 yards
00981-19              USS North Dakota heavy gunfire
00981-20              USS North Dakota firing a broadside
00981-21              Entrance to Harbor, Buffalo, N.Y. – color postcard
00981-22              Birds eye view of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
00981-23              USS North Dakota entering Gatun Lake, Panama
00981-24              Birds eye view of Balboa, Panama
00981-25              Birds eye view of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands February 3, 1919
00981-26              Recreation room, Red Cross House, USA General Hospital No. 16, Allington, Conn. 1919
00981-27              A Saturday Inspection showing sailors lined up
00981-28              USS North Dakota in Culebra Cut, Panama Canal
00981-29              A Good Catch Cuban waters showing sailors with strings of fish
00981-30              Waterfalls, Panama Canal
00981-31              A company of apprentice seamen undergoing Swedish drill at the U.S. Naval Training Station, San Francisco, Calif.
00981-32              Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal
00981-33              “This is the band leading one of our parades in Boston. They are passing the Boston Commons. This parade took place on the Liberty Loan day. The square buildings you see are subway stations.”
00981-34              USS North Dakota in Culebra Cut, Panama Canal
00981-35              USS North Dakota passing through Panama Canal
00981-36              Old Castle Santiago de Cuba
00981-38              Lock, Panama Canal
00981-39              Sailors watch lock mechanism, Panama Canal
00981-40 – 42     Lock, Panama Canal
00981-43              Radio station towers, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
00981-44              Street scene in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
00981-45              Sailors in a marketplace, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
00981-46              Sailor stands in graveyard, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
00981-47              Street scene, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
00981-48              An old tomb, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
00981-49              Two women posed beside a boat
00981-50              “Guard” – formation of sailors with weapons

612 East Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505
Get Directions

State Museum and Store: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F; Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
We are closed New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
We will also be closed on Christmas Eve this year.
State Archives: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. M-F, except state holidays; 2nd Sat. of each month, 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
State Historical Society offices: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F, except state holidays.

Contact Us:
phone: 701.328.2666