Minot, is a city located in north central North Dakota. The city is the county seat of Ward County and is a trading center for a large portion of northern North Dakota, southwestern Manitoba, and southeastern Saskatchewan. Founded in 1886 during the construction of the Great Northern Railroad, Minot is also known as the “Magic City”.
Minot came into existence in 1886, when James J. Hill’s Great Northern Railroad ended its push through the state for the winter, after having difficulty constructing a trestle across Gassman Coulee. A tent town sprung up over night, 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 town site was chosen by the railroad to be placed on the land of then-homesteader Erik Ramstad. Ramstad was convinced to relinquish his claim, and became one of the city leaders.
The town was named after Henry D. Minot, a railroad investor and friend of Hill. The city was incorporated on June 28, 1887.
The Soo Line railroad later built a line from Valley City up to Canada. While initially their plan was to cross the Souris River at Burlington, local interests and arguments convinced them otherwise; landholders along the new route donated the right-of-way. They reached Minot in 1893.
During Prohibition the city was nicknamed “Little Chicago”, as it was a central hub of Al Capone’s liquor smuggling operations. Smugglers used a network of underground tunnels (some of which were previously built for heating or deliveries) to transport and conceal the illicit cargo entering from Canada. Some of the tunnels can still be accessed.
The 1950s saw a large influx of federal funding into the region, with the construction of Minot Air Force Base (1956-57) thirteen miles (20 km) north of the city, and Garrison Dam (1947-53) on the Missouri River, about fifty miles (80 km) south of Minot.
In 1969, a severe flood on the Souris River devastated the city. Afterward, the Army Corps of Engineers straightened the path of the river through the city and built several flood control structures.