The flowers on the trees have bloomed, and all of the leaves have sprouted from their branches. Baby coyotes are yipping in the pasture and the bees are starting to pollinate the clovers popping their heads up out of the ground. Spring is in full swing, summer will be here before we know it, and McKenzie County is opening one of their beloved parks for the season. Heritage Park & North Dakota Oil Museum celebrated its annual season opening with games, food vendors, and a silent auction at the museum building at 902 2nd Avenue Southwest in Watford City on Saturday.
This community shindig kicked off a series of events that happen at Heritage Park, including archaeology digs, barn dances, sawmill demonstrations, and storytimes for children featuring the wild tales of North Dakota. The history of Watford City as a city begins in 1914 when the Great Northern Railroad from Saint Paul, Minnesota, to Seattle, Washington started on the Madson Grade, one of the largest railroad grades in the country near the township. Within 2 years, the railroad grade was 90 ft tall and almost a mile long but Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in June of 1914 and by 1917 America was drawn into WWI. After the war, the town formed a baseball team, churches and a school. During the Great Depression, Watford City decided to take on a major water and sanitation program to keep people most affected by the collapse of wallstreet employed. After WWII, a new hospital was built and Watford City Air Force Station opened 1979, creating jobs and giving the area a renewed sense of patriotism. After the discovery of oil, Watford City flourished and has become a growing family-oriented community of diverse people. You can see all this and more at the Oil Museum.
The Oil Museum is open until the end of the season for all who wish to attend and details about other events are available on their Facebook page, it also has relics from how people lived and worked in North Dakota since the discovery of oil and even before back to pioneer days. If you take a walk outside you can see the remnants of the old township including a barber shop, trappers cabin and blacksmith’s shop. This is also a good place for out-of-town family members to see a little of what North Dakota is like through the years. Admission is free and donations to the museum are welcome.