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May 29: Westland Oil Filling Station in Minot

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May is National Historic Preservation Month, and today we hear about another historic structure involved with North Dakota’s transportation infrastructure.

In 1919, the Scobey Oil Company, owned by R. J. (Dick) Coughlin, consolidated with the Gray-Lindemann company to become the Westland Oil Company. This Montana business soon expanded into North Dakota, especially in the North-Northwest. In 1927, the company decided to move its headquarters from Scobey, Montana, to Minot. In March of 1928, Minot welcomed the new industry, along with the 44 new people who relocated to the city.

At that time, Minot had three large service stations, plus a service pump that was “maintained night and day at the Citizens garage.” However, there was discussion of building a super-service station near the end of Central Avenue. And around 1929, a gas station in the “domestic” style was constructed at 510 East Central Avenue. This cozy house-like structure, near Eastwood Park, evoked feelings of home and comfort. It also reflected the Tudor Revival-style buildings of the nearby neighborhood. Today, this building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Articles about the Westland Oil Filling Station and its employees were common in the local newspapers, including photos of the staff, company reports, and descriptions of how the oil was blended. One article boasted that the company had its own business airplane, a Ryan Airlines monoplane constructed in San Diego. By 1930, in order to provide “greater service to its patrons,” it was reported that the company also arranged that telegrams could be received at Westland service stations.

Coughlin, the head of the Westland Oil, got very involved in the community and appeared regularly in newspaper articles; including the Bismarck Tribune in 1937, which reported that he had provided and “personally” showed “motion pictures of a North Dakota roundup” which he had taken on a McKenzie County Ranch.

Interestingly, Peter Dippong, an oil compounder for the company, previously worked as a Canadian Pacific Railway chef. Alongside his other duties at Westland, he provided meals for special events like conventions and meetings. In 1931, he and Coughlin prepared a venison dinner from two deer procured during a hunting trip south of Williston. The paper reported that they cooked enough for a hundred, but the “56 in attendance let none of it go to waste.”

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker


  • Ward County Independent, March 1, 1928, p2; p4
  • Ward County Independent, Thursday, March 3, 1927
  • Ward County Independent, Thursday, December 3, 1931, p4
  • Ward County Independent, Thursday, October 16, 1930, p8
  • National Register of Historic Places nomination Form: Westland Oil Filling Station
  • Bismarck Tribune, January 16, 1937, p3

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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