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Sawyer, North Dakota is a small town fifteen miles southeast of Minot. It is located along the Mouse River and close to a long stretch of railroad tracks; this transportation access provided much of the motivation for the small town's settlement. Sawyer owes its rapid population growth at the start of the twentieth century to the railroad and the businesses located on Main Street (today's Dakota Avenue).
Minot, the “Magic City,” set in a hidden valley just sixty miles south of the Canadian border and 145 miles east of Montana, began its rich history in the 1880s as part of the western frontier in the homesteading era. Empire Builder James J. Hill, owner of the St. Paul, Minneapolis, & Manitoba Railway (later the Great Northern Railway) and New Englander and financier Henry D. Minot began a stretch of tracks across the flat plains around 1886. Within one year, the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Railway established a depot in Minot, opening the door to the future arrival of coach and baggage cars. Today's downtown Minot was the last stop on the steel tracks, until Gasman Coulee was conquered by construction of a trestle bridge, once more allowing the laying of track to the west. As such, Minot served as a place to refuel workers, travelers and their animals.
Even after the completion of the railway line to Seattle, Minot remained an important stop. Hotels, saloons, eateries and a watering fountain would be among the many businesses and services established as the backbone of a soon-to-be thriving city.
Please visit one of the sections below to view a historical snapshot of Downtown Minot.