October 16, 2020 — On this date in 1958, the stretch of Interstate 94 between Valley City and Jamestown was dedicated and opened for business at an interchange south of Eckelson. The section of highway stretched for 39 miles and was at the time the largest single piece completed as a unit on the 41,000-mile interstate system.

Governor Davis held the ribbon, which was a tough rope made of North Dakota wheat, while Highway commissioner A.G. Wentz used shears to cut it. Later, they switched tasks, for the sake of the photographers.

A local radio pastor, the Reverend McCoy, began to lead a prayer at the dedication, but four Starfire jets from the National Guard squadron at Fargo interrupted him, zooming overhead, prompting the master of ceremonies to joke, “I’ve never seen [McCoy] get such a response.”

“Dakota Datebook” is a radio series from Prairie Public in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota and with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council. See all the Dakota Datebooks at prairiepublic.org, subscribe to the “Dakota Datebook” podcast, or buy the Dakota Datebook book at shopprairiepublic.org.

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