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May 1: National Historic Preservation Month - Transportation in North Dakota

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Transportation systems have left an indelible mark on the landscape. The pathways reflect many facets of history in commerce, technology, economics, and more.

In 1913, the North Dakota Legislature created a State Highway Commission. Prior to that, road construction and maintenance had largely been done by road supervisors established by counties and townships.

The Highway Commission went through many changes as it grew to become the Department of Transportation. In 1924, the department began publishing and supplying official state highway maps at no charge. This was advertised as part of a new service for the public. The commission also provided official road condition reports and answered queries about state highway laws and other general information. This service bureau was established to help “bring the residents of the state into closer contact with the work of the state Highway Commission.” As part of this hope, they planned to issue regular bulletins to be reprinted in newspapers of the department’s accomplishments.

The service saw great success. The highway map was so popular that the first edition was gone in two months, and the Highway commission had to print more. The second edition, published the same year, included minor changes.

May is National Historic Preservation Month. While the North Dakota Department of Transportation is not itself in the National Register of Historic Places, it certainly played a role in the history of those places. So, join us for more Dakota Datebooks this month as we explore some of those historic places being preserved in North Dakota.

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker


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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