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Downtown Minot, 2009
Downtown Minot, 2009
"The Magic City"
Location in Ward County, North Dakota
Country United States
State North Dakota
County Ward
Founded 1886
Incorporated July 16, 1887
 • City 27.28 sq mi (70.68 km2)
 • Land 27.25 sq mi (70.59 km2)
 • Water 0.03 sq mi (0.09 km2)
1,611 ft (491 m)
 • City 48,377
 • Rank US: 823rd
ND: 4th
 • Density 1,773.4/sq mi (684.45/km2)
 • Metro
77,546 (US: 73rd)
Demonym(s) Minoter, Minotian
Time zone UTC−6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP Codes
Area code(s) 701
FIPS code 38-53380
GNIS feature ID 1030249
Highways US 2, US 2 Bus., US 52, US 52 Bus., US 83, US 83 Byp.

Minot ( MY-not) is a city in and the county seat of Ward County, North Dakota, United States, in the state's north-central region. It is most widely known for the Air Force base approximately 15 miles (24 km) north of the city. With a population of 48,377 at the 2020 census. Minot is the state's fourth-largest city and a trading center for a large part of northern North Dakota, southwestern Manitoba, and southeastern Saskatchewan. Founded in 1886 during the construction of James J. Hill's Great Northern Railway, Minot is also known as "Magic City", commemorating its remarkable growth in size over a short time.

Minot is the principal city of the Minot micropolitan area, a micropolitan area that covers McHenry, Renville, and Ward counties and had a combined population of 77,546 at the 2020 census.


Dakota Territory circa 1886, showing Burlington and Minot.

Minot came into existence in 1886, when James J. Hill's Great Northern Railway ended its push through the state for the winter, after having difficulty constructing a trestle across Gassman Coulee. 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 sprang 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 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, an ornithologist and friend of Hill. Its Arikara name is niwaharít sahaáhkat [niWAharít sAhaáhkAt, niWAharít shaáhkAt]; its Hidatsa name is dibiarugareesh, ("Plum Coulee").

The city was incorporated on June 28, 1887.

The Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad (Soo Line) 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.

Minot and its surrounding area were wide open throughout 1905-20. Population grew rapidly due to railroad construction and availability of unclaimed land. Nearly complete court records of Ward County and Minot document the prevalence and different types of criminal activity, and offer strong support for the dubious title of "crime capitol of North Dakota." State attorney general William Langer helped clean up the town in 1917-1920, but by the time Prohibition had arrived in the 1920s the city had become a center of illegal activities associated with the High Third district, which were exacerbated due to the city being a supply hub of Al Capone's liquor smuggling operations. The hotbed of crime that sprang up in the Downtown area soon led people to give Minot the nickname "Little Chicago." The 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.

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.

The Old Soo Depot Transportation Museum is housed in the historic Soo Line depot (built 1912) in downtown 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.

On January 18, 2002, a severe train derailment west of the city sent a gigantic cloud of anhydrous ammonia toward Minot, and Burlington. One man died and many of Minot's citizens were sickened and severely injured by the noxious gas, causing one of the worst major chemical accidents of the country. In early 2006, court cases were heard in Minneapolis, Minnesota, against Canadian Pacific Railway, the owner of the derailed train. The anhydrous ammonia spill was the largest such spill in U.S. history. This incident was addressed by Eric Klinenberg in his book Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media as an example of the failure of mass-Media, specifically local radio stations, to disseminate information to the public in an emergency.

The 2011 Souris River flood caused extensive damage throughout the Souris River Valley. On June 21, 2011, KXMC-TV reported that a flood of historic proportions was imminent in the Souris River Valley, largely due to large dam releases upstream. Around 12,000 people were evacuated. On June 26, flooding exceeded previous records when the river crested at 1,561.72 feet above sea level, three feet above the previous record set back in 1881. It is estimated that 20 percent of Minot sustained damage from the flood. This figure includes over 4,100 homes which were someway affected, 2,376 extensively damaged, and 805 damaged beyond repair. The nearby town of Burlington was also severely damaged during this time.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.45 square miles (45.20 km2), of which, 17.43 square miles (45.14 km2) is land and 0.02 square miles (0.05 km2) is water.


Minot is commonly divided into three major divisions. These divisions are North Hill, the Souris River Valley and South Hill. North Hill is the area roughly north of Eleventh Avenue North and Northwest Avenue. South Hill is a broad area south and west of Valley Street and Fifth Avenue South. West of Sixth Street West, South Hill dips sharply to the southwest. The limits of South Hill are less clearly defined than North Hill. Though the neighborhood levels out past Sixteenth Street South, the name South Hill is generally applied to all areas south up to the city limits. Neighborhoods in the Souris River Valley include Bel Air, Downtown, Eastwood Park, Oak Park and West Minot.


Minot is located on the Drift Prairie of northwestern North Dakota. Minot is at 48°13′59″N 101°17′32″W / 48.23306°N 101.29222°W / 48.23306; -101.29222, about 100 miles (160 km) north of Bismarck. The Souris River, or Mouse River, runs through the city west to east.

Important cities in the region for which Minot is the trading center include Burlington, Velva, Garrison, Stanley, Bottineau, Rugby, and New Town.

Minot is almost entirely land; the Souris River, its oxbow lakes, and a few creeks take up just 0.14% of the city's total area.

The elevation of the river at the city center is 1,540 feet (469 m) above sea level. The valley sits some 160 feet (50 m) below the surrounding plains; the elevation at the Minot International Airport on "North Hill" is 1,716 feet (523 m). The city has several small horseshoe-shaped oxbow lakes in its limits near the river, created due to the Souris's meandering course.

Grid and address system

The city is laid out on a grid-based street system. Streets run north-south and avenues run east-west. Streets are numbered by their block distance east or west of Main Street. Similarly, Avenues are numbered north and south of Central Avenue. There are four city quadrants (NW, SW, SE, NE) to describe the exact location of any given address. Main Street addresses are simply designated North and South. Central Avenue addresses are simply designated East and West. The grid addressing system carries over into the rural areas of Ward County, making the county one of only three that do not follow the statewide grid system in North Dakota (the others being Burleigh County and Grand Forks County).

Souris River

The Souris River divides the city approximately in half, north and south. The valley rises to the plains both north and south of the river. Although there are names for certain features of these hills, such as Anthony Hill on South Hill, there are no general names for these topographical features. The northern rise and the plateau north of it are referred to as North Hill and the southern rise and plateau south of it are referred to as South Hill.


Minot experiences a cool-summer Humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb), with four distinct seasons and moderate annual precipitation. Summers range from warm to moderately hot, with frequent thunderstorm activity. Winters are typically bitterly cold and snowy, with high winds and below-freezing temperatures for weeks at a time. Lows below 0 °F (−18 °C) occur on about 39 days during the winter, while temperatures reach 90 °F (32 °C) on 14 days per summer, and in some years reach 100 °F (38 °C). The average annual snowfall total is 43 inches (110 cm).


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 575
1900 1,277 122.1%
1910 6,188 384.6%
1920 10,476 69.3%
1930 16,099 53.7%
1940 16,577 3.0%
1950 22,032 32.9%
1960 30,604 38.9%
1970 32,290 5.5%
1980 32,843 1.7%
1990 34,544 5.2%
2000 36,567 5.9%
2010 40,888 11.8%
2020 48,377 18.3%
U.S. Decennial Census
2020 Census

2020 census

As of the census of 2020, there were 48,377 people, 20,979 households, and 9,978 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,346.1 inhabitants per square mile (905.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 85.1% White, 4.2% African American, 2.3% Native American, 2.3% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.6% from other races, and 4.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.3% of the population.

There were 20,979 households, of which 26.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.1% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 44.1% were non-families. Of all households 34.9% were made up of individuals, and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24.

The median age in the city was 33.8 years. 21.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 65.5% of residents were aged 19-64; and 13% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 51.9% male and 48.1% female.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 40,888 people, 17,863 households, and 9,978 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,345.8 inhabitants per square mile (905.7/km2). There were 18,744 housing units at an average density of 1,075.4 per square mile (415.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.2% White, 2.3% African American, 3.2% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.6% from other races, and 2.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.7% of the population.

There were 17,863 households, of which 26.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.1% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 44.1% were non-families. Of all households 34.9% were made up of individuals, and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.86.

The median age in the city was 33.8 years. 21.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 14% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.7% were from 25 to 44; 23.2% were from 45 to 64; and 15% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.3% male and 50.7% female.


The "stave church" in Minot's Scandinavian Heritage Park
The "Dala horse" in the Scandinavian Heritage Park

Minot's arts community includes an art museum, a symphony orchestra, an opera company, a city band, several dance and theater troupes, a youth/punk concert organization, and the AMP; over 40 organizations claim membership in the Minot Area Council on the Arts.

Nearly 40% of the city's residents are of Scandinavian ancestry, and every October since 1977, Minot has been the host to the Norsk Høstfest, North America's largest Scandinavian-American festival. Scandinavian Heritage Park is located in Minot. Scandinavian Heritage Park features remembrances and replicas from each of the Scandinavian countries: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland.


The Minot Park District operates seventeen parks with various facilities; Corbett Field, home to American Legion, high school and college baseball; Optimist soccer complex; MAYSA ice arena; the Sertoma Complex which has 8 softball fields; Souris Valley Golf Course, and an indoor tennis complex.

The city's largest parks are Roosevelt Park and Oak Park. Roosevelt Park Zoo is one of the top zoos in the region. Dogs are allowed in Roosevelt Park, a sign is posted at the entrance confirming this. A "bark park" for dogs opened in the summer of 2005.

The North Dakota State Fair is held annually in Minot. Nearly all recreation areas however are closed during the long winters. The local high school hockey teams use the ice rink located in the Fair Grounds. The ice rink is also turned into the location of the rodeo.

Apple Grove Grove Golf Course, and Souris Valley Golf Course are located in Minot. The Minot Country Club is located near Burlington.


  • The Minot Mallards, were a Mandak League baseball team that played their games at Corbett Field.
  • The Minot Minotauros, an NAHL team, play their games at Maysa Arena.
  • The Minot Muskies, played one season with the American West Hockey League and played their games at All Seasons Arena.
  • The Minot Americans were an SJHL hockey club from 1987 to 1994, playing their games primarily at All Seasons Arena.
  • The Minot Top Guns were an SJHL hockey club from 1994 to 1997, playing their games primarily at All Seasons Arena.
  • Other semi-professional hockey clubs calling Minot home were the Minot Raiders/Rangers ('75-'77) and the Minot Maple Leafs ('85-'86).
  • The Minot Skyrockets, a former Continental Basketball Association team, played their games at Minot Municipal Auditorium.
  • The Minot State Beavers play ice hockey at All Seasons Arena, baseball at Corbett Field, football at Herb Parker Stadium and basketball at the MSU Dome.
  • The Mouse River Rollers play roller derby at different locations around the city, including the Maysa Arena.
  • Minot is home to several municipal sports venues including the All Seasons Arena, Corbett Field, Maysa Arena and the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

Sister cities

Minot maintains a sister city relationship with the Norwegian city of Skien.

Minot is also a sister city of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, about 300 miles (480 km) to the north-west. The cities share many qualities, including their size, location on river valleys, historical origins, and air force bases.



The railroads that built Minot remain, though Great Northern is now part of the BNSF Railway and the Soo Line is run by the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Passenger rail transportation is provided on Amtrak's Empire Builder line, connecting Chicago with Portland and Seattle, which stops at the Minot Amtrak station. Trains make a 20-minute refueling and crew change stop in Minot. Westbound trains are scheduled to arrive at 8:29 am local time three times per week (Tu, Fr, Su); eastbound trains are scheduled to arrive at 9:27 pm three times per week (We, Fr, Su).


US 83 running through north Minot

Three major U.S. highways run through the city, connecting it to Canada, Montana, and two interstates: US 2, US 52, and US 83.

US 2 runs east-west and is a four-lane divided highway from Minot east to Grand Forks and beyond as well as west to Williston and into Montana. Minot is midpoint along the North Dakota segment of US 2.

US 83 runs north-south through central Minot as Broadway. It is a four-lane divided highway from Minot south to Bismarck and north to Minot Air Force Base. Just north of the main gate at the base, the road reduces to two lanes and crosses the Canada–US border at Westhope, ND, where it becomes Manitoba Highway 83.

US 52 is a two-lane highway that runs southeast-northwest. Southeast from Minot, it follows a slightly circuitous route to Jamestown. US 52 then merges with Interstate 94 (I-94) after Jamestown, heading due east to Fargo. Northwest from Minot, US 52 crosses the Canada–US border at Portal, ND/North Portal, SK, where it becomes Saskatchewan Highway 39.

The Minot Bypass follows alternate alignments of these roads around the city in its northwest and northeast quadrants, with southwest and southeast bypasses in preliminary planning stages.


Minot International Airport is served by three airlines as well as charters and air taxi service around North Dakota. Delta Air Lines offers up to six daily round trips to Minneapolis International Airport, offering hundreds of daily connections. United Airlines offers four daily round trips to its Denver International Airport hub. Allegiant Air provides up to four weekly round trips to Las Vegas McCarran International Airport and up to five weekly round trips to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

Within the city

Automobiles dominate intracity and local area transport. There is limited fixed-route city transit service (Minot City Transit) on weekdays, and flexible-route rural transit service (Souris Basin Transportation) on an occasional basis. Local transit services for the elderly and disabled (Minot Commission on Aging Transit) meet federal guidelines but have 24-hour advance notice requirements.

Pedestrianism in the city is inhibited by several factors; the sidewalk network is poor in many areas of the city, though improving. Automobile drivers take the right of way at all but the best-marked crosswalks, and major points are often separated by relatively large distances and hill slopes. Skateboarding is illegal in streets and on sidewalks (though there is a skating area in Roosevelt Park), and rollerblading is generally disallowed by downtown landowners.

Sites of interest

Scandinavian Heritage Park
  • 62 Doors Art Gallery, is an art gallery downtown displaying local artwork
  • Arlene Theater, a performing arts center, where the Mouse River Players perform
  • Dakota Territory Air Museum is an aircraft museum near the airport. It contains many war and civilian aircraft.
  • The Scandinavian Heritage Park is home to the Minot Visitor's Center, as well as buildings based on the Scandinavian style of architecture, including a Stave Church. The grounds are home to the Minot's Arts in the Park series.
  • Minot Riverwalk, a two and a half mile long trail for walking and biking along the Souris River in Downtown Minot.
  • Northwest Art Center, at Minot State, features two galleries of contemporary art.
  • Old Soo Depot Transportation Museum, museum and research center in the restored 1912 Soo Line Depot.
  • Pangea House, a music, arts and education center, which also hosts Why Not Fest, an annual music and arts festival.
  • Pioneer Village, on the state fairgrounds, is a collection of various buildings from the pioneer era.
  • The North Dakota State Fair Center, located on the state fairgrounds, is home to many of the city's largest events, including: The North Dakota State Fair, the Norsk Høstfest, the Big One craft show, the KMOT Ag Expo, and the Great Tomato Festival. It also hosts rodeos, and college hockey games.
  • The Railroad Museum of Minot, open on Saturdays, has displays and artifacts related to the rail history of the city and the state.
  • Roosevelt Park and Zoo
  • Taube Museum of Art, located in the 1906 Union National Bank Building, features exhibit space in the Main Gallery and the Lower Gallery, which change every four to six weeks.


Largest employers

According to the City's 2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the largest employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Minot Air Force Base 6,803
2 Trinity Health 2,885
3 Minot Public Schools 1,057
4 City of Minot 416
5 Minot State University 387
6 Cognizant (ING Minot Service Center) 372 (2018)
7 MLT Inc. 366 (2019)
8 BNSF Railroad 360
9 Marketplace Foods 313
10 Ward County 283
11 Kalix (MVAW) 277
12 Grand Hotel/International Inn 219 (2018)
13 Ryan Family Dealerships 204
14 Walmart 197 (2018)
15 SRT Communications 187 (2018)
16 Baker Hughes 170 (2018)
17 Westlie Motors 124 (2018)
18 First Western Bank 123 (2018)

Minot's economy depends on the Air Force Base located 13 miles (21 km) north of town making the city's economy more robust than other cities of its size due to its large service area; however, it is beset by significant problems with enterprise capital and wage standards. About 30% of Minot residents work two or more jobs, and two-thirds of households earn less than the national median household income.

ING/ReliaStar established a service center in Minot in December 1998.

Minot has seen a huge increase in population and infrastructure investments in the last several years with the expanding drilling (using the 'frac' petroleum extraction technique) of oil in the Bakken Formation and Three Forks Groups. The State of North Dakota has a website detailing daily oil activity.


The Minot Public Schools system operates nine elementary schools (K-5) within the city: Bel Air, Edison, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Longfellow, Roosevelt, Perkett, Sunnyside, and Washington. The district also operates Bell Elementary, located about five miles southeast of Minot. Jefferson Elementary was closed in 2003. The old Washington Elementary building was closed at the end of 2007 and the students moved to a new building which was renovated from an old health care center. There are also two elementary schools (K-6) on the Minot Air Force Base: Dakota and North Plains. The 2011 flood resulted in the relocation of Erik Ramstad Middle School and the closure of McKinley Elementary, as both buildings were damaged beyond economical repair.

There are three middle schools in the system: the two in Minot are grades 6-8: Jim Hill in the south, and Erik Ramstad in the north. Memorial Middle School on Minot AFB, is named for fallen veterans of the U.S. armed forces. The school was built in the mid-1960s on the northern perimeter of the base. All three middle schools were formerly called "junior high" schools.

The city has one public high school, Minot High School, divided between two campuses. A few blocks east of Downtown Minot is Central Campus (grades 9-10), which occupies the original high school building. On the southwest side of the city is the newer Magic City Campus (grades 11-12), constructed in 1973 just west of Jim Hill Middle School. MPS also operates an adult learning center and Souris River Campus, an alternative high school.

Private schools in Minot include Bishop Ryan Catholic School, which offers preschool through grade 12 at a single campus. There is also a Protestant K-12 school, Our Redeemer's Christian School.

Minot is also home to Minot State University, the third largest university in the state. MSU's campus is at the base of North Hill, just west of Broadway. Originally a two-year teacher's college when opened in 1913, Minot State became a university in 1987.

Preschool and daycare

Many of the larger daycare centers and pre-schools in the Minot area work in collaboration with local church groups. There are also programs such as Head Start and preschool programs through Minot Public Schools. The in-home daycare providers are state registered and licensed.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Minot (Dakota del Norte) para niños

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