The town of Rugby, North Dakota is considered to be the geographical center of North America. A stone marker in the town's courthouse square marks the exact location of the center.
Mercer County, located in the southwestern part of North Dakota, has a rich and varied history that stretches back to the days of early European settlement. The county was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Mandan and Hidatsa Plains Indians. However, European explorers and fur traders began to arrive in the area in the early 1800s, ultimately leading to the establishment of permanent settlements.

In the late 1800s, Mercer County saw a significant influx of settlers as the Northern Pacific Railway extended its tracks through the area. The town of Stanton was founded in 1880 and served as a major supply point for the railroad. With the arrival of the railroad, the county experienced a surge in agriculture and farming. Homesteaders flocked to the area to claim their land, and small towns began to spring up throughout the county.

The early 20th century brought both prosperity and challenges to Mercer County. The discovery of oil in the Amor Township in the 1920s brought economic growth and development to the area. This led to the establishment of several oil wells, pumping stations, and refineries, providing lucrative opportunities for local residents.

However, the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl in the 1930s hit the county hard, causing widespread economic hardship and forcing many families to leave their farms. Despite these challenges, Mercer County slowly recovered, and today, agriculture and energy production, including oil, gas, and wind power, form the backbone of the local economy.

In summary, Mercer County's history is one of resilience and adaptation. From its humble beginnings as a Native American territory to the influx of settlers, the establishment of towns and railroads, the rise of the oil industry, and overcoming the challenges of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, the county has evolved into a thriving community with a diverse and economic base.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Mercer County, North Dakota.

  • 1875 - Mercer County is established
  • 1883 - First post office is established in Mercer County
  • 1890 - The population of Mercer County reaches over 900 residents
  • 1892 - The city of Beulah is founded
  • 1914 - Mercer County Courthouse is built in Stanton
  • 1940 - The population of Beulah exceeds 1,000 residents
  • 1953 - Construction of the Garrison Dam begins
  • 1966 - Lake Sakakawea is formed after the completion of the Garrison Dam
  • 1974 - Mercer County Historical Society is established
  • 1990 - Beulah celebrates its centennial
  • 2010 - Mercer County experiences a population increase due to oil industry development