Once upon a time, I visited a land far, far away. A land that is distinctly American, yet not at all like the rest of America. A sparsely populated frontier inhabited by loners, native Americans, and also the hardest working, hardiest people you can find in the continental United States. Yes, it’s North Dakota. Things are different up there, especially away from the few metro areas. After only a few visits over 30 years I could go on and on about this place, but I’ll spare you.
It is interesting how they adapt to life on the frontier. Get off the arrow-straight I-94 and it’s like going back in time. Miles and miles of flat, treeless farm land. Small towns of less than 500 people that you can see from miles away. Towns with three churches, three bars, one small grocery store and one gas station. I took these photos in 1999. At that time an automated, credit card driven fueling station was unheard of, at least in the south. It was a high-tech promise of the future, but there it was in a tiny town 50 miles from the nearest McDonalds in North Dakota. And it made sense, because the nearest full gas station was at least 50 miles also, and there just wasn’t enough business to support a staffed station.
I can’t remember for sure but this “station” is somewhere on a zig-zag route from Bismarck to Devil’s Lake. I think it was New Rockford, but I can’t be sure. It was on the outer edge of town, you can see the trees behind it. The price on the sign was a little high for 1999, as you would expect in the middle of nowhere. In rural North Dakota the only trees are beside houses, and they were planted there to block the cold winds of winter. The pump is a dual pump, with regular unleaded on one side and diesel on the other. The wide open gravel lot gives plenty of room for both cars and large farm trucks.