Fargo Arena and Island Park, Then and Now

This strange, seemingly out-of-place structure on the site of the Island Park pool is a remnant of the Fargo Arena.

The structure above was once the entryway to the Fargo Arena, a giant indoor recreation facility which only existed for five years in Fargo. Essentially a massive quonset, Fargo Arena was huge.  According to a note written on the back of an early photograph, Fargo Arena was purported to be the largest building in the United States by floor space. It was reportedly dismantled after the flood of 1943 and moved to Hector International Airport for use as an airplane hangar.

*Edit* A Facebook follower has clarified that the original structure was replaced with a smaller structure that may have also been known as the Fargo Arena, before it was supplanted by the Island Park pool.

Fargo Arena

Fargo Arena

Through photos housed at both the NDSU Institute for Regional Studies and the North Dakota State Historical Society, we can follow the life of the place — here’s a photo of the building under construction. Here’s a photo of the building in all its glory, and here’s another angle. Here’s a photo which shows it flooded (1943). Here’s a photo from approximately 1945 which shows the building after the actual arena had been dismantled and removed, with only the former entry remaining. Please feel free to correct or add any information you might have in the comments below.

Fargo Arena

The WPA plaque above says the structure was built in 1939, but NDSU’s Institute for Regional Studies says it was 1938. Where the arena once stood, the Island Park Pool now resides.

Island Park Pool

The Island Park area has changed significantly over the course of Fargo’s history.

Island Park, 1920
Island Park, 1920

Below: an animation created from a 1939 aerial view, transposed with a 2017 image from Google Earth. You can see how the river channel was rerouted for flood mitigation, and the Fargo Arena went away to be replaced with Island Park Pool.

Island Park, Then and Now

Island Park Animation
Click the image to see it full-size.

If you have any information about Island Park and the former Fargo Arena, please make a comment below.

2 Replies to “Fargo Arena and Island Park, Then and Now”

  1. Will Schaefer scored 8 goals in that building on one Saturday morning when we were playing a Parkboard hockey game. Not sure what team we played against that day. We were from Carl Ben Eielson, great memory. Will should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame!

  2. Remember many figure skating lessons from Archie, Ken, and. Jan Vra? in that rink. Also remember the 55 gallon drum with a boom that they used to flood the rink with. My dad was president of the fm figure skating club for awhile.

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