Dakota Datebook

Traffic in Minot

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

 

The development of the automobile affected the economy, society, and the great American Dream—yet that progress came with its own set of problems. Driving was still a new concept to many in 1915, and residents in Minot were regularly breaking street and traffic ordinances. The city commissioners decided to deal with these problems by appointing a police officer to direct traffic.

 

By this date, the plan was having an effect. The Ward County Independent reported that “Main Street, Minot, has become such a busy thoroughfare, that the city fathers have arranged to keep a traffic policeman at the crossing of Main street and Central avenue” and that he “was responsible for several accidents being averted.”

 

Other notices published in the local newspapers by the chief of police warned drivers to “henceforth” observe road rules that many had, up to that point, been ignoring. Some of these rules of the road were as benign as having the proper year’s license tags. However, the notice also included regulations that, if violated on a daily basis, might make today’s drivers grip their steering wheels in fear: such as keeping to the right side of the road, and not turning in the middle of the block, and even just remembering how to turn right and left. As stated in the newspaper, “When turning to the right, keep close to the curb, and when turning to the left, drive away out around.” The speed limit was going to be enforced “to the full extent of the law.” Also, pedestrians were warned that they had to walk at street crossings only.

 

The new traffic officer on Minot’s streets was instructing all drivers how to make their turns, along with these other rules. Still, even then, no one liked a back-seat, side-seat, or sidewalk driver… which is perhaps why the Ward County Independent urged, “Have a little patience with the traffic policeman. If he stops your team and makes you drive around the way you should go, just take it good naturedly for he has done the same thing to a thousand or more besides you.

 

Autos must all be faced one way along the sides of the streets. Our traffic policeman is doing good work. Keep it up.”

 

Dakota Datebook writtenby Sarah Walker

 

Source:

Minot Daily Optic-Reporter, April 20, 1915

Minot Daily Optic-Reporter, May 12, 1915

Ward County Independent, Thursday, April 22, 1915

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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