July 31, 2019 — It was on this date in 1955 that the state’s monthly oil production topped the one million barrel mark for the first time, when 1,000,154 barrels were produced in July of that year.

It was in 1916 that the Pioneer Oil and Gas Company began drilling the state’s first wildcat well southeast of Williston. It turned up dry, but that didn’t stop the many attempts that followed it. All told, it took 45 years for dry holes to turn into gushers. The Amerada Petroleum Corporation finally discovered oil near Tioga in April 1951. The well was named “Clarence Iverson Number 1,” and it produced over three hundred barrels of oil in its first 17 hours.

An exciting boom followed, and by year’s end, two-thirds of the state was under lease. Crowds of strangers swarmed into the region, completely changing the complexion of western North Dakota with overcrowded schools, outbuildings being turned into living and office spaces, and roads wearing out – which led to a boom in the construction trade as well.

“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, or subscribe to the “Dakota Datebook” podcast.

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