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Magic City Beginnings


Minot was founded in 1886 and, because it expanded so quickly, was quickly dubbed the “Magic City.” It was named for Henry Davis Minot, a director of the Great Northern Railroad. Ironically, Minot died in a train wreck just four years later at the age of 31.

Minot was incorporated as a city the year after it was founded, and it soon supplanted the town of Burlington as the seat of Ward County.

Ernest Tompkins was the first non-Indian baby in Minot, born in 1886. His middle name, Minot, reflects the special occasion. Tompkins homesteaded in Daniels County, MT, in 1920 and, in 1964, wrote The Brass Gold Mine and other stories of North Dakota and Montana, which was published by the LaMoure Chronicle. He passed away in Montana in 1970.


Wick, Douglas A. North Dakota Place Names. Bismarck: Sweetgrass Communications, 1988.

Daniels Co. Montana archives. <>

Montana State Death Index 1970-1979. <>

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm