Nodaks Take to the Road - Highway System Vastly Improved
December 31, 1972
Highway Department officials tell us that North Dakotans drove a total of 4.1 million miles within the state during this year. That is almost double the number of miles for 1955. Motor vehicle registration increased significantly from 276,000 to 476,000, and North Dakota has 331,000 licensed drivers.
All that driving by all those people took place on a vastly improved road system. At the end of World War II, the state had only 1,700 miles of hard-surfaced roads of its more than 6,000 miles of primary highways. The postwar prosperity allowed the legislature to pump millions of dollars into road improvement. By 1955, however, less than half of the primary roads had been surfaced, leaving 3,000 miles of gravel, including some main highways.
Today over 6,000 miles have been paved, leaving only 250 miles in gravel. And, thanks to President Eisenhower, the state is serviced with two interstate four-lane, limited-access highways, I-29 and I-94. No wonder so many people are driving so many miles.
Touring is a natural outgrowth of driving so many miles. The state has organized a department which has as its sole function the promotion of North Dakota as a place people will want to visit. Millionaire Harold Schafer is busy restoring Medora as a frontier town that both NoDaks and out-of-state visitors will appreciate. The State Historical Society of North Dakota has been upgrading its historical sites, and planning for a new museum on the capitol grounds is in the works. North Dakotans are becoming more aware that they have unique things to offer the nation.
Travel has become a great deal easier with the rapid development of motels. Old ones are being upgraded and new ones built. National chains such as Holiday Inn and Ramada Inn are finding great success in North Dakota. North Dakota is on the move.
By Dr. D. Jerome Tweton
Originally published as The North Star Dakotan student newspaper, written by Dr. D. Jerome Tweton and supported by the North Dakota Humanities Council.
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