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Dreaming of Jewel Bearing Plants


On this date in 1953, citizens of Rolla were thinking about jewels – to be more precise, they were thinking about a jewel bearing factory. The new Turtle Mountain Ordnance Plant in Rolla was under construction. It would produce synthetic rubies, sapphires and ceramics -- critical components in highly sensitive instruments used by the military during the early and middle years of the Cold War.

The defense plant was the first of its kind in North Dakota, and construction was moving along well. Heating, plumbing, and lighting were completed before the end of February. Machinery arrived from the Bulova Watch company's New York plant in Sag Harbor, after getting checked and readied. However, before the installation began at the plant, a "housewarming" party was held. The American Legion sponsored a dance in the empty building. 180 couples attended. The Mt. Pleasant Parent Teacher Association served lunch. Both groups donated money raised at the event to help build a stage at the new school auditorium.

The Turtle Mountain Star newspaper had a model of the plant building on display in their window. Made by local Pete Edwardson, the model was constructed from scraps of material from the jewel bearing plant construction site. Built to scale, the model was 7 3/4 inches long and 3 1/4 inches wide, with nails used for the heating plant chimney and main building vents. Pasted paper served as windows.

Along with all of this, the Rolla Commercial club took advantage of the occasion to offer a $10 cash prize to the person who submitted the best slogan for the town. Judges were looking for something "short and to the point," and that's just what they got. Out of 76 entries, Dorothy Egeland of Rugby submitted the winning entry: “The Jewel Bearing Center." The slogan was used immediately in advertising and publicity, and Miss Egeland won the ten dollars.

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker


"http://www.prairiepublic.org/radio/dakota-datebook?post=35104" http://www.prairiepublic.org/radio/dakota-datebook?post=35104

"http://www.microlap.com/about.php" http://www.microlap.com/about.php

Turtle Mountain Star, February 19, 1953; February 26, 1953