Minot, ND and a Drive Through Oil Country

Minot, ND

After waving good-bye to Terry and LuAnn near Devil’s Lake, we continued our journey across US Rte. 2 to the city of Minot, ND.  The trip was very enjoyable on a smooth, flat highway through miles and miles of farm fields filled with all types of grains, seeds, and beans.

N. Dakota is the second biggest sunflower seed producing state (S. Dakota is the leader)

N. Dakota is the leading producer of flax in the U. S.

Minot (pop. 46,000) is typical of many cities along US Rte. 2, it was founded by a railroad owner.  It came into existence in 1886, when James J. Hill’s Great Northern Railway ended its push through the state for the winter.  It was the end of the railway’s line, so whenever a train came into the town and the stop was announced, the conductor would call out “Minot, this is Minot, North Dakota, prepare to meet your doom”.   A tent town sprung up overnight, as if by “magic”, thus the city came to be known as the Magic City, and in the next five months, the population increased to over 5,000 residents, further adding to the nickname’s validity.

The “Skyline: of Minot

There isn’t a great deal to do or see in Minot but we did enjoy an hour or so visiting the Scandinavian Heritage Park.  Over 40% of the local population are of Scandinavian Heritage and this park honors their past.  It is believed to be the only park in the world representing all five Nordic countries..  The most interesting part of the park for us is the Gol Stave Church.

A stave church is a medieval wooden Christian church building once common in north-western Europe.  The name derives from the building’s structure of post and lintel construction, a type of timber framing where the load-bearing posts are called stafr in Old Norse and stav in modern Norwegian.  The Gol Stave Church Museum is a full-size replica of the original church built in about 1250, now in Bygdoy Park in Oslo.

Inside the Gol Stave Church

After a visit to Minot, we continued west heading toward Montana.  But first we needed to drive through the Bakken Formation, an area of about 200,000 square miles in western North Dakota, eastern Montana, and southern Saskatchewan rich in petroleum and potash.  Oil was first discovered within the Bakken in 1951, but drilling techniques of that time made it uneconomical to drill there.  Today advancements in drilling techniques and demand for petroleum have now made drilling in the Bakken economically profitable.  Today this area is going through an economical boom.

The drive began peacefully through flat, empty farmland

Soon things began to change as wells appeared

The oil boom has brought a large number of workers and their families to the area, creating a severe housing shortage.  Two years ago we were travelling through the southern part of the oil area and saw miles of travel trailers parked in fields.  We saw fewer trailers on this trip. as the oil companies have had time to build more stable temporary living facilities.

Two story apartments that looked like truck trailers

Some of the housing looked like giant mailboxes

Traffic increased as we approached Williston

Williston is definitely Boom Town, USA.  In 2010 the census counted 14,700 people.  Today some estimates place the population at over 30,000!

Storage tanks and tanker trucks are everywhere

Typical scene at a traffic light along Rte. 2

Ah, finally a return to normalcy as we enter Montana!

We didn’t stop in Williston, there are just too many people and trucks!  A couple of hours later we found ourselves in peaceful Glasgow, MT for the night.  More on that later . . .

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15 Responses to Minot, ND and a Drive Through Oil Country

  1. Hans has been reading about indoor RV parks being built in ND. More efficient for housing at the oil fields.

  2. Gay says:

    I love the sunflower field…they have become one of my favorites!
    What a nice day by the lake in your last post.
    We spent last summer in Montana…enjoyed every minute!

    • placestheygo says:

      I have really enjoyed all the various fields of crops we have seen. I wish farmers would label them.

      • Jodee Gravel says:

        Yes! One of our “peeves” is unlabeled crops along the highway! Seems silly but I think we would have a greater appreciation for where our food comes from if we saw it growing. Maybe they’re afraid teenagers would burn the broccoli and cauliflower fields……

  3. libertatemamo says:

    A Scandinavian church…and sunflowers…who would’ve thought!

  4. Laurel says:

    The Gol Stave church is beautiful — I’d like to see that. But the drive through Williston looks pretty depressing. You’re right, those houses look like mailboxes!

  5. Jodee Gravel says:

    Your header really defines “late summer” – it’s just beautiful. Love the church. I always wonder what draws a certain culture to a certain area – I’m missing the similarities between North Dakota and Scandinavia :-). Mixed feelings on the “boom” – yay for the workers and so sad for the environment. Maybe someday we’ll figure out a better balance……

  6. pmbweaver says:

    The fields of sunflowers reminds me of when Carrie and I were in Italy. We took the train from one city to another and passed field after field of sunflowers. I think they are just so lovely.

    Now that is scary….”meet your doom.”

    The Gol Stave Church is beautiful. It reminds me of the Chapel in the Woods we saw Rapid City, SD. It is smaller but very beautiful.

    That housing complex looks like what Carrie stayed in when she studied in Denmark. Ugly!

    I think I have read….Boom Town, USA….in several places across the U.S. Glad you arrived safely in MT. Enjoy the terrain.

  7. Ingrid says:

    That Church looks so interesting but the fields of flowers are definitely beautiful 🙂

  8. LuAnn says:

    I love the Gol Stave Church! Would love to visit it although I don’t think I will be in Minot any time soon. Ok John, how hard did Pam have to twist your arm for that header? Ironically I almost changed my header to one of the sunflower fields as well. I thought we passed a lot of trucks and oil rigs near Dickinson but it looks much more crowded where you two were. Very interesting looking apartments there. 🙂

  9. Love the blue flax seed field and sunflowers! And that Gol Stave Church is very interesting!

  10. rommel says:

    Love that Gol Stave Church. Very intricate architecture!

  11. Pam says:

    Flax is a crop you don’t ask yourself where it came from, now I know!

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