Williston, North Dakota
Business district of Williston
Business district of Williston
Location of Williston, North Dakota
Location of Williston, North Dakota
Coordinates: 48°9′23″N 103°37′41″W / 48.15639°N 103.62806°W / 48.15639; -103.62806Coordinates: 48°9′23″N 103°37′41″W / 48.15639°N 103.62806°W / 48.15639; -103.62806
CountryUnited States
StateNorth Dakota
CountyWilliams
Government
 • MayorHoward Klug
Area
 • Total7.56 sq mi (19.58 km2)
 • Land7.50 sq mi (19.42 km2)
 • Water0.06 sq mi (0.16 km2)
Elevation
1,877 ft (572 m)
Population
 • Total14,716
 • Estimate 
(2019)[3]
29,033
 • Density1,900/sq mi (750/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
58801-58802
Area code(s)701
FIPS code38-86220
GNIS feature ID1032815[4]
HighwaysUS 85, US 85B, US 2, US 2 Bus., ND 1804
Websitewww.cityofwilliston.com

Williston is a city in and the county seat of Williams County, North Dakota, United States.[5] The 2010 census[6] gave its population as 14,716, and the Census Bureau gave the 2019 estimated population as 29,033, making Williston the sixth-largest city in North Dakota. The North Dakota oil boom is largely responsible for the sharp increase in population.

Williston's newspapers, both in print and online, are the daily Williston Herald and the weekly The Williston Trader. Williston is the home of Williston State College and the Miss North Dakota Scholarship Pageant.

History

Founded in 1887, Williston was named for Daniel Willis James, a merchant and capitalist, by his friend, railroad magnate James J. Hill.[7][8][9]

Geography

Williston is located at the crossroads of U.S. Highways 2 and 85.

It is near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers, at the upper end of the Lake Sakakawea reservoir.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.56 square miles (19.58 km2), of which 7.50 square miles (19.42 km2) is land and 0.06 square miles (0.16 km2) is water.[1]

The municipality is 18 miles (29 km) from the Montana-North Dakota border and 60 miles (97 km) from the Canada–United States border.[10]

Climate

Williston has a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification 'BSk'); it is part of USDA Hardiness zone 4a.[11] The normal monthly mean temperature ranges from 11 °F (−11.7 °C) in January to 70 °F (21.1 °C) in July.[12] On average, there are 3 days of 100 °F (38 °C)+ highs, 25 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs, 42 days with a low of 0 °F (−18 °C) or below, 10 days with lows plummeting to at least −20 °F (−29 °C), and 8 days that do not rise above 0°F annually.[12] The average window for freezing temperatures is September 19 thru May 20,[12] allowing a growing season of 121 days. Extreme temperatures officially range from −50 °F (−46 °C) on December 23, 1983 and February 16, 1936 up to 110 °F (43 °C) on July 5, 1936; the record cold daily maximum is −29 °F (−34 °C) on January 16, 1930, while, conversely, the record warm daily minimum is 78 °F (26 °C) last set July 19, 1974.[12]

Precipitation is greatest in June and July and averages 14.4 in (370 mm) annually, but has ranged from 6.1 in (150 mm) in 1934 to 22 in (560 mm) in 1896.[12] Snowfall averages 45.3 in (115 cm) per season, and has historically ranged from 8 in (20 cm) in 1908–09 to 107.2 in (272 cm) in 2010–11;[12] the average window for measurable (≥0.1 in or 0.25 cm) snowfall is October 20 through April 23, although snow in May occurs at most several times per decade and September snow is a much rarer event.[12] Due to the relative aridity, there are only 4 days where 24-hour snowfall exceeds 3 in (7.6 cm).

Demographics

Census Pop.
1890295
1900763158.6%
19103,124309.4%
19204,17833.7%
19305,10622.2%
19405,79013.4%
19507,39827.8%
196011,86660.4%
197011,230−5.4%
198013,33618.8%
199013,136−1.5%
200012,512−4.8%
201014,71617.6%
Est. 201929,033[3]97.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[16]
2018 Estimate[17]

Williston is in northwestern North Dakota's booming oil patch where adequate, affordable housing has become a concern.[18] According to a February 2014 article in Business Insider, Williston had the highest apartment rents in the United States.[19] The 2010 census counted a population of 14,716, up from 12,680 in 2000, but the number of current residents is likely much higher because the count did not include those living in temporary housing. In September 2011, the mayor estimated the actual population at 20,000.[20] The aforementioned 2014 Business Insider story estimated that the population was over 30,000.[19]

2010 census

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 14,716 people, 6,180 households, and 3,589 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,962.1 inhabitants per square mile (757.6/km2). There were 6,542 housing units at an average density of 872.3 per square mile (336.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.6% White, 0.3% African-American, 3.3% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.3% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 3.0% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 2.2% of the population.

There were 6,180 households of which 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 9.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 41.9% were non-families. 34.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.99.

The median age in the city was 35.5 years. 23.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 10% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.7% were from 25 to 44; 25.4% were from 45 to 64; and 14.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 51.0% male and 49.0% female.

2000 census

According to the census of 2000, there were 12,512 people, 5,255 households, and 3,205 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,794.1 per square mile (693.1/km²). There were 5,912 housing units at an average density of 847.7 per square mile (327.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 93.69% White, 0.17% African American, 3.65% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.24% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.17% from other races, and 2.06% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 1.23% of the population.

The six leading ancestry groups in the city are Norwegian (47.8%), German (31.6%), Irish (9.6%), English (5.8%), Swedish (4.5%), Dutch (4.3%) and French (4.0%).

There were 5,255 households, of which 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.4% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.0% were non-families. 34.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.96.

The age distribution was 25.6% under the age of 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 22.5% from 45 to 64, and 16.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $29,962, and the median income for a family was $38,713. Males had a median income of $29,578 versus $18,879 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,656. About 11.3% of families and 13.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.1% of those under age 18 and 7.8% of those age 65 or over.

Economy

Gas station at Farmers' Cooperative in Williston, 1941. Photo by Marion Post Wolcott.

Williston's economy, while historically agricultural, is increasingly being driven by the oil industry. Williston lends its name to the Williston Basin, a huge subterranean geologic feature known for its rich deposits of petroleum, coal, and potash. Williston sits atop the Bakken formation, which by the end of 2012 was predicted to be producing more oil than any other site in the United States, surpassing even Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, the longtime leader in domestic output in the United States.[21]

(The state of North Dakota provides a website detailing daily oil activity.) In 1995, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that there were 150 million barrels of oil "technically recoverable" from the Bakken shale. In April 2008, the number was said to be about four billion barrels; in 2010 geologists at Continental Resources, the major drilling operation in North Dakota, estimated the reserve at eight billion. In March 2012, after the discovery of a lower shelf of oil, it announced a possible 24 billion barrels. Although current technology allows for extraction of only about 6% of the oil trapped 0.99–1.99 mi (1.6–3.2 km) beneath the earth's surface, recoverable oil might eventually exceed 500 billion barrels.[21] [The recoverable oil amount in the WSJ article may be a misprint. Continental Resources estimates of original oil in place (OOIP) is 500 billion bbls of oil. Primary production using new technology could increase primary recover to 10% or 50 billion bbls of recoverable oil. Some suggest as much as 20% which would be 100 billion bbls. Other recovery rates are estimated at 3 – 8% currently, or 15 billion to 40 billion bbls of recoverable oil.][citation needed]

Williston has seen a huge increase in population and infrastructure investments during the last several years with expanded drilling using the Hydraulic Fracturing petroleum extraction technique in the Bakken Formation and Three Forks Groups.[22] Examples of oil industry related infrastructure investments are the multi-acre branch campus of Baker Hughes, the Sand Creek Retail Center, and the Jim Bridger shops & offices.

Williston, North Dakota Amtrak Station, a popular way to get to the city.

A major regional grain elevator is served by the BNSF Railway. Williston's livestock arena has weekly auctions.

Forts Union and Buford, as well as the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers—a part of the history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition—encourage area tourism. Williston is also comparatively close to the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Arts and culture

Sites of interest