Minot is a city in Ward County, and serves as the capital of that municipality. Founded in 1886, it has a population of 40,888 according to the 2010 census and is known for the Air Force base located approximately 15 miles (24 km) north of the city, as well as being a trading center for a great deal of the southwestern region of the state and beyond. Minot was named after Henry D. Minot, a railroad investor and ornithologist.
Minot’s origins date back to 1886, when the city was first founded as the Northern Pacific Railroad’s railway expansion efforts brought work crews to the region; a small tent town that first appeared, seemingly overnight, prompting new residents to refer to it as the “Magic City.” Northern Pacific Railroad chose the land of then-homesteader Erik Ramstad; Ramstad agreed, eventually becoming the city leader. Within five months, the population of Minot had swelled to include over 5,000, further lending credence to the fanciful “Magic City” nickname.
Minot was officially incorporated in 1887, and railway expansion continued, with several rail companies building new lines up into Canada, establishing a busy trade route. As the years progressed, population continued to grow due to railroad construction and the abundance of local land that was unclaimed at the time. Later, during the Prohibition era in the 1920s, the region saw an increase in crime, including smugglers utilizing underground tunnels in order to transport illegal cargo – including outlawed alcoholic beverages – over the Canadian border and into the United States.
Later, in the 1950’s, the U.S. government invested funding into the construction of Minot Air Force Base, situated 13 miles north of the city, as well as the Garrison Dam on the Missouri River, about fifty miles south of Minot. Minot’s economy is strongly dependent upon the Air Force Base; in addition, the city has been the subject of numerous major oil drilling and hydraulic fracking infrastructure investments in recent years, which in turn has caused another population spike as new residents arrive for the newly-available jobs the oil industry has provided.
The Minot Public Schools system operates ten elementary schools within the city, as well as three middle schools and one high school; there are also two elementary schools on the Minot Air Force Base. Minot is also home to Minot State University, which was originally founded in 1913.
Minot features a busy arts and recreation scene, with public amenities including an art museum, a symphony orchestra, an opera company, a city band, and several dance and theater troupes. In addition, due to the strong Scandinavian ancestry of many of its inhabitants, the city is host to Norsk Høstfest, the largest annual Scandinavian-American festival in the United States. The Minot Park District also operates seventeen parks providing numerous activities, including hosting facilities for sporting events.