North Dakota was the site of one of the deadliest storms in U.S. history, the Schoolhouse Blizzard of 1888. The storm struck without warning and claimed the lives of more than 200 people, many of whom were schoolchildren caught in the blizzard on their way home from school.
McKenzie County, North Dakota, has a rich history that dates back to its early settlement by Native American tribes. The region was primarily inhabited by the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes, who thrived along the Missouri River. However, the arrival of European settlers in the 19th century brought significant changes to the area.

In the late 1800s, European immigrants began to settle in McKenzie County, driven by the promise of fertile land and economic opportunities. The construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad in the area further facilitated settlement and the growth of towns. Agriculture became the backbone of the local economy, with wheat farming dominating the landscape. The county also experienced a boom in cattle ranching during this period.

The discovery of oil in the early 20th century brought about a dramatic transformation in McKenzie County. With the development of the Bakken Formation, an enormous oil reserve located beneath the county, the area experienced a surge in population and economic activity. New towns and oil-related infrastructure sprung up, attracting workers from across the country. This oil boom not only stimulated the local economy but also presented challenges related to infrastructure, housing shortages, and environmental concerns.

Today, McKenzie County continues to be a major oil-producing region, contributing significantly to North Dakota's overall oil production. Alongside the oil industry, agriculture, particularly wheat and cattle farming, remains an important economic sector. The county's history, from its Native American heritage to its role in shaping North Dakota's oil industry, is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the people who have called McKenzie County home.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of McKenzie County, North Dakota.

  • 1905 - McKenzie County established
  • 1914 - First oil well drilled in McKenzie County
  • 1920s - Oil boom in the county
  • 1930s - Great Depression affects the county
  • 1950s - Oil production declines
  • 1970s - Oil industry revitalized in the county
  • 2010 - Population and economic growth due to the oil boom
  • 2020 - Infrastructure improvements and diversification of the economy