North Dakota’s City Of Magic

The Magicians. Specifically, Minot High School Magicians. To many, this could be seen as just a quirky mascot for a high school’s sports teams. However, there is more to this than just a mascot. There is some magical geography involved here.

Minot has a population of 47, 370 people (as of 2018). It is home to Minot Air Force Base. Minot is the 4th largest city in North Dakota. It was founded and incorporated before North Dakota became a state (Minot was incorporated in 1887, North Dakota AND South Dakota became states on November 2, 1889). It is known as Magic City. And here is where geography comes into it.

“Magic City” refers to a city that springs up rapidly in population, often shortly after being founded. In 1890 (3 years after its incorporation), Minot had a population of 575 people. Between 1890 and 1930, Minot’s population increased from 575 to 16,099. It gained 5,613 people between 1890 and 1910. Minot was a city of rapid growth, as if it just magically sprang up.

Magic City Harvest Festival
Dakota Territory Railroad Map. This was BEFORE Minot was incorporated.

Consider where and when Minot was founded. North Dakota was part of the western expansion. Before becoming a state, North Dakota was part of the Dakota Territory. This was an area of relatively sparse population. The construction of the Great Northern Railway and the Soo Line would spur population growth in what is now North Dakota and South Dakota. Minot lies where the Great Northern Railway (now the BNSF Railway) and the Soo Line (now the Canadian Pacific Railway) met. The site where Minot would be founded was chosen because of the railroads. Homesteader Erik Ramstad was persuaded to give up his claim, and this would be the site where Minot was founded. People were moving to North Dakota from places such as Germany, Sweden, and Norway (40% of Minot’s population is of Scandinavian ancestry) for the land, which is good for farming. Railroads brought in many people to North Dakota, especially Minot. Minot’s population would grow rapidly as a result.

Train along the Great Northern Railway, just west of Minot, 1914.

Transportation geography spurred Minot’s growth as a city. It played a major role in Minot becoming North Dakota’s Magic City. This heritage lives on in its high school’s mascot. “Magicians” isn’t just a mascot. It represents how Minot grew.

Minot, North Dakota.

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