Watch the growth of Williston
In 1915, Williston was a town to watch. Established in 1887 as a station along the Great Northern Railroad tracks, WIlliston was named for Daniel WIllis James, a stockholder of the line and friend of James J. Hill. Williston became a city in 1904. Just over a decade later, the city was undergoing a multitude of improvements. At the beginning of December, an article in the Grand Forks Daily Herald noted that a new record had been set in the city history, with new construction in 1915 valued at more than $100,000.
More improvements were underway. The Williston Graphic boasted of its low electric rates and a new street lighting system, both of which were arriving in time for Christmas. As the newspaper reported on this date: "Miss Williston gets 'just what she wanted' in her Christmas stocking, and it is enough to make her smile sweetly on Mr. City Commission."
The low rates started at ten cents for the first 100 kilowatts, and dropped as low as 6 cents for heavier users. The newspaper surmised that the cost would "prove at least as cheap as coal or gasoline and will do away with the muss and labor and danger of handling." As a result, the city of Williston was expected to promote electric ranges to induce more use.
Moreover, a new White Way street lighting system was set to be completed within the next six months, as bids were called for a multitude of possible systems--such as iron posts or cement posts, with a single light or five light system. The city commission eventually settled on a "handsome design" of a one light, cast iron post made by the King Foundry Company in St. Joseph, Missouri. The cost was expected to be about $20,000 for 217 posts; however, when the bids did come in, they were several thousand dollars higher than expected, due to rising price of copper, iron, tin, and other metals. Nonetheless, Williston would have its lighting; the commission did not see any prospect of decline in the price, and decided the city needed the improvement.
As one newspaper concluded, "Watch the growth of Williston – the City of Opportunity and great natural advantage."
Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker
The Williston Graphic, December 23, 1915, p1
Grand Forks Daily Herald, December 6, 1915, p2
Williston graphic, January 27, 1916, p1