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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Westland Oil - 1964

Westland Oil Co. was established in Scobey, Montana in 1919 by RJ Coughlin, Sr. In 1928 the headquarters were relocated to Minot on East Central Avenue. The company had refineries Cut Bank and Kevin, Montana. Westland’s products included diesel fuels, Buffalo Gasoline, Wesco LP gas, Dura Lubricants and Itasca oils . At one time there were many Westland Gas Stations in the city of Minot. The Westland mascot was Billy Buffalo

 Westland Station on Central Ave& 6th St SE

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ace Hardware

Ace Hardware on Broadway – in August of 1922 Ace Hardware opened a new store on the corner of Broadway and Burdick Expressway. The location was the former home of Wholesale Food Center and before that the National Grocery Store. Al Anderson bought the building, completely remodeled and moved the store from 11 First St SW where they had been since 1946. After Ace Hardware moved the store was A Scheel’s Hardware and SportingGoods. Scheels was also the place to buy many baking items that could not be found at regular department stores…. Then when Sheel’s moved out half of the building was used as a furniture store and the other half was Schlotsky’s Restaurant and is now the home of Zimmerman’s Furniture

 National Foods - early 1950"s
Ace Hardware opening 1968

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pggly Wiggly - East Burdick

 The first Piggly Wiggly Store opened in the mid 40’s at 213 South Main Street. In 1957, at a cost of $300,000, Piggly Wiggly opened a new store by the Fairgounds. Piggly Wiggly East was one of the largest grocery stores in the state at that time. In 1961 another store opened in the Oak Park Center. The store on Main Street closed in 1960 and shortly after a third store was opened in the Town & County Center. In 1982 the Oak Park store moved to the Arrowhead Shopping Center. At one time Piggly Wiggly employed over 250 people. I worked at the Town & Country store in 1966-67. Nash Finch supplied many grocery stores among them were the Piggly Wiggly stores

 Piggly Wiggly East
Nash Finch - 1940's

Friday, November 22, 2013

Train Depots - Hub of the town

Mary Wood was an agent/telegrapher for Great Northern Railroad between 1943 and 1960, during the time when just about every town had a train depot. By the 1960s most of those depots had started to close.
"For a century and a quarter the depot was the hub and heart of the town it serviced," she wrote in a history of the depots. "Here the depot agent was a prominent figure. His duties were many. He copied train orders from the dispatcher and handed them up to the engineer and conductor as the train went by, sold tickets, checked baggage, man-handled freight and express on and off freight cars. Everything came by rail merchandise, mail, coal, lumber, beer. Even the circus came by train. (The depot agent) ordered grain cars for the elevator, then billed out the load. He received and sent telegrams. He was the first to know everything by listening to messages sent by other agents along the line."
 Soo Line Depot - 1887
Train in Minor 1898

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Liquor Raid - 1939

One of the biggest prohibition raids in Minot took place on this day. Nineteen people, 10 men and 9 women were arrested. The raid was conducted by Federal agents from North Dakota and Minnesota. Search warrants were obtained for 12 establishments but only 8 were actually entered. Three establishments had heavily barred doors so tear gas was used to drive out the suspects and gain entrance. Charges of possession and selling intoxicating liquor were filed …. These charges carried a maximum fine of $10,000 and 5 years in prison per charge or both

Parrott Inn on High Third Street

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

High Third - the beginnings

The original Third Street, or the area of ill repute was 1st Street SW, from Central Avenue south. The town was much younger and much smaller in the early days. The city fathers decided to move this area of ill repute “way out of town.”  They forced them to the first coulee to the west.. They moved them about 2 blocks to the west to its Third Street Southwest location. Its good they moved them to Third Street as Second Street eventually became Broadway. One of the first Madams on Third Street was May Butler. She was located on the west side of the block between Central Avenue and 1st Avenue SW

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Destruction Device

 A Liquor Raid at 32 Central Avenue East agents found a device that had been constructed to destroy any evidence.  The strange device had liquor packed around it in such a way that it would be destroyed by fire when the current was on. The device consisted of a small wire coil in a concrete enclosure. Around the coil were shavings and other flammable material. Mixed in with this were the bottles of liquor. When the current was turned on it would ignite the material and heat the bottles enough for them to be destroyed thereby eliminating evidence. When agents barged into the room, they unplugged the device. The bottles had not heated up enough to explode and destroy the evidence.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Third Street - Fashion Shopping

The Ladies of Third Street were regular customers at many of the best clothing stores in Minot. They had their own shopping time. Years ago, all the stores in downtown Minot were open every Thursday evening until 9:00 pm. Since the stores were open later in the evening they would open later in the morning, on Thursdays. Many of the stores like S&L, Bader’s and others would open between 8:00 am and 10:00 am just for the Ladies of Third Street to shop. They would always pay in cash and were always done shopping by the time the stores opened for regular business. The Ladies of Third Street would spend a lot of money and did not disturb the regular shoppers and could shop in peace.

Friday, November 15, 2013

High Third Street Mayor

This individual controlled what happened on Third Street. Because of his control over the Third Street area, things were rather peaceful. The area pretty much was self policed. One of the local, well know individuals on Third Street, we will refer to him as Jim, had an altercation with the “Mayor” and slapped him. The “Mayor of Third Street” looked at Jim and told him he had until evening to get out of town. Jim left town and went to Winnipeg. Jim did not return until the “Mayor” died.. This occurred on a hunting trip. The “Mayor” and a number of his cronies were out hunting and drinking. The practice was to have someone sitting on the front fenders of the car as they drove along looking for game. They group was driving down a corn field looking for pheasants. When they got to the end they noticed the “Mayor” was not on the front of the car. He was lying in the field. They had run over him breaking both legs. His friends took him to town and to the hospital. He died within 2 days due to an infection. After that, Jim was able to safely return to Minot

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Third Street Raids

Back in the 50’s, as the story goes, there was a raid on one of the houses on Third Street. One of the women in the house was found hiding inside a kitchen cupboard. She had crawled in and shut the door, hoping to avoid being found. This was a bit unusual as most of the time the establishments in Third Street had advance warning of pending raids by the Police Dept. When the Police Dept was located on 1st Avenue in downtown Minot, it was in the same building as the fire dept. and City Hall. Some of the firemen would watch for unusual activity in the Police Dept and if it was a raid on Third Street, they would call and warn the Third Street businesses. Usually no one of importance was caught in the raids, however many prominent people in Minot would frequent many of the establishments.

The Coffee Bar on High Third

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

High Stake Poker Games

It is well known that many of the High Rollers of the day would often hold high stake poker games. Many a car was lost and many won over a deck of cards. One of the Bootleggers always claimed the Cadillac’s or other cars he won from a well known auto dealer, always ran better than any he had purchased. He claimed that he won as many cars as he had lost. This same Bootlegger had at one time won a house on Third Street in a poker game. He also lost it in a poker game. Before he lost it in another poker game he hired someone to clean the house so he could turn around and sell it. As the cleaning person was clearing out a closet in the basement, she fell through the closet floor into a sub basement below the actual basement. One can only speculate what the lowest level was used for.

View of Third Street (south end) from 4th Ave (Burdick Exp)
this was taken in 1960 just before the demise of Third Street.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Booze Pipeline

This is from a listener who used to have a water well drilling company in the area:  Apparently at one time there was an underground pipeline that ran from the Ward County Courthouse to the Leland Hotel in Downtown Minot. It seems that when the court would prosecute booze runners during the prohibition days, the judge would dump all the illegal alcohol down a drain. Some enterprising individuals reportedly ran a pipe from that drain, under downtown Minot to the Leland Hotel. The alcohol was collected, processed and served to the guests of the Leland. Apparently many contractors over the years would hit the illicit pipeline when doing underground work in the area. The pipe was always patched and repaired, until they realized that it was not a water line and was no longer in use.  At one time there were a number of contractors who were aware of this booze pipeline The Leland Hotel location is now occupied by Artspace

Leland Hotel Block with Businesses

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bad Checks For Booze

One of the more sensational incidents was when a group of runners came up with the idea of buying a large amount of Canadian liquor and paying for it with cashier’s checks drawn on banks that had closed. The runners made sure they stayed south of the Canadian border as the Canadians who sold them the liquor were literally out gunning for them. As one of the group, a runner from Minot said, “They gave us bad whiskey so we gave them bad checks.”

Friday, November 8, 2013

Booze Running Info

In a report to a federal grand jury in Fargo on October 6, 1920, Judge Charles Amidon  reported that there are automobiles loaded with liquor in convoys that have men armed with rifles and sawed off shotguns. He was encouraging the jurors to enforce the law.

On October 25, 1920 a story was printed about $40,000.00 worth of confiscated whiskey being destroyed in Minot. “The fumes of the strong liquor became so dense at one time that some of the officials became nauseated.”

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Price for Running Booze

The “whiskey sixes” would run to Canada and back in the late spring through the fall, until the snow came. The price paid to the runners for running from their start to Canada and back varied. The amount ranged from $100.00 to $500.00 per trip. A lot of money was made in a very short time if you wanted to take the risk.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Booze Runners ....

The runners carried heavy loads in the “whiskey sixes”. Where the roads were good, the cars could travel along at speeds as fast a 50 to 60 miles per hour. The runners would travel in a line, or group with the lead car posing as a tourist to flush out the lawmen. The lead car would stall on the road, warning the runners that the law was ahead so they could make their get-away. Another trick used by the runners was to have a woman companion and at times a woman driving the car. The thought being that the lawmen would hesitate to shoot at a car occupied by a woman. It was generally considered by their appearance that these women companions were not home loving housewives.

Saul's Bar B Que on Third Street

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Whiskey Runners

 The Whiskey runners made a lot of money and made it in a hurry. They were flashy dressers, sporting big diamonds, silk shirts, fancy ties and suits. They were also big tippers. One night in Minot a group of them lined up and peppered a bass drum in a Minot dancehall orchestra with silver dollars. The group was trying to break the head of the drum. They eventually ruined the drum but the orchestra was not upset as they got to keep all the silver dollars.

Boarded up business on High Third

Monday, November 4, 2013

Whiskey Six

Going back and reviving some of the prohibition stories

A Whiskey Six was the name given to the big, high powered automobiles used by the booze runners in the days of Prohibition. The favored automobile was the Buick.  Minot was a local point for the Whiskey Runners in the era of 1919 to 1921. The whiskey running was at its peak during this time. Minot was the last major stop before Canada. The whiskey runners at times would travel in packs with a pilot car ahead to warn the if any lawmen were waiting up ahead. On some days, a whole city block would be lined with “whiskey sixes” waiting for dusk to make their run for the booze. They seldom returned to Minot after getting the load as the main destination was points like St Paul, Minneapolis, Sioux City and Omaha.