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February 20: Bismarck Bottling Works

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On this date in 1910, the Bismarck Tribune reported on the expansion of the Bismarck Bottling Works, a popular bottling company. The company’s sodas had grown in popularity, allowing the company to open another factory in Mandan by early Spring. This was not, however, the first Bismarck bottling company.

Years before, in 1876, Charlie Williams moved to Bismarck and opened a saloon. By 1882 he opened the first Bismarck Bottling Works, a part of C.R. Williams and Co. It became the wholesaler for Philip Best of Milwaukee, a prominent beer company that had been around since the 1840s. The beer gained popularity not only in Bismarck but also Jamestown, Moorhead, and other towns in the region.

Williams produced beer for the Best Company until at least 1884 at his facility on the south side of Bismarck. For several years, newspaper ads sang the praises of Williams and his beer. But in 1885, the ads disappear, making it clear that Williams no longer carried the Philips Best brand.

However, that same year, Williams bought the Baker & Gooding pop bottling plant, which he operated until leaving Bismarck in late 1889. This movement out of North Dakota by Williams and other beer and alcohol businesses coincides with statehood, as voters approved a prohibition measure in the new state’s constitution. Williams and his peers would be out of business.

It was the beginning of a period of inactivity for bottling companies in Bismarck that lasted until 1900. That year, a soda bottling plant was opened. In 1905, it was sold to Julius Sell, who renamed the plant Capital City Bottling Works. A couple years later, Sell’s manager Frank Murphy left the company to open his own bottling company, which carried a similar name: The Bismarck Bottling Works, which operated into the 1930s.

Dakota Datebook by Olivia Burmeister


  • Bismarck Tribune December 1, 1882 image 8
  • Bismarck Tribune February 20, 1910 image 2
  • General Information File- Bismarck Bottling Works

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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