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Man making photo history of Minot

May 19, 2008
The hard part is the editing.

During the past two years, Bruce Anderson has amassed hundreds upon hundreds of old photos showing every aspect of the city of Minot from the 1880s to the present day.

“I have enough for 10 books,” said Anderson.

He’s made telephone calls and personal visits, spent hours looking at old newspapers in newspaper archives, and met all sorts of interesting characters in his quest for photographs of different events. His ultimate goal is the production of the best book of its type ever produced using photographs to tell the history of the city.

Anderson’s in-depth photographic history of Minot is being sponsored in part by the Old Soo Depot Museum Research Center. He’s also had more than 100 people and organizations submit photos for the book, which will give photographic credit.

Anderson said paring down the photos will be hard part. The book can be only about 400 pages and he has many more wonderful photos than that. He’s thinking of grouping the photos according to theme.

He plans a chapter on Main Street Minot from the late 1880s to closer to the present day. Another chapter would focus on High Third and the Prohibition days in Minot. Other chapters would focus on the streets, businesses, city views, buildings, businesses, city services such as police and fire, city parks, education, sports, and a chapter on hang-outs such as drive-through restaurants and The Keg. He’ll have another section on the railroad industry, recreation indoors and outdoors, the eventful year of 1969, which included both a flood and a teacher strike, and “Zip to Zap,” known as “North Dakota’s Woodstock.” He plans yet another section on infamous crimes that have happened in North Dakota and some of the major fires. Minot had one of the first TV stations in the Midwest. One of his pictures shows an old cooking show, while others show vintage images of TV cameramen at work.

Photos of the 1950s vintage show children with their noses pressed up against a store in downtown Minot looking at toys on display, and another group of children at play, the boys in striped T-shirts and the girls in straggly skirts. Still another photo, from the early 20th century, shows a “nail driving contest,” young women in a line, each focused intently on their nails. Other photos show other recreational activities of years gone by: a ski jump on a hill behind Minot State University, a man and a woman tobogganing on the hill next to what is now Magic City Campus.

Anderson put together a DVD a few years ago showing Minot’s history from 1880 to 1900. The DVD project got his current book project started, but it has grown to encompass more than he originally intended. Anderson said he’s collected rare, one of a kind photographs of Minot that have probably never been seen by more than a few people. Some people may still have photos in their possession that they don’t know are rare and of historical value, said Anderson. He’d love to see them if people want to contact him.

Anderson works on his project in the evenings, on weekends and during the summer, when he isn’t busy with his job at Minot High School-Central Campus. He’ll have more time for his pursuit now that he’s retired as girls basketball coach for the Minot Public School District, he said. Anderson said he’ll miss the girls on the team and coaching the next crop of girls, who he thinks have more talent than he’s seen in nine years. But he’ll be applying his competitive nature to the book too. He wants to create the most extensive, best possible book depicting a photographic history of a town’s love of and fascination with history.

Anderson is still looking for a printer for the book, but he hopes to have the book out sometime this fall. The DVD depicting the history of Minot from 1880-1900 is still for sale at Home Sweet Home and Wild Things Gallery.

(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to


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