Zap was settled in 1913 as the last town that year on a Northern Pacific spur line from
Mandan, North Dakota. A railroad company official (Mr. Pettibone) in charge of
naming the new villages, named our community Zap. He chose Zap because there was a
coal mine at the edge of town and Mr. Pettibone knew a coal-mining town in Scotland called
Zapp. He chose to Americanize the name and spelled it with only one "p".
There are other myths about the naming of our town, but this is most likely the
On May 10, 1969, Zap had the only official riot in North Dakota where the National Guard
was called in to disperse the crowd. It was called the "Zap In" and
people from all over the United States "Zipped to Zap".
Our city limits are one square mile and our population is approximately 290.
Geography of the area
Zap is located in a valley with a creek running throughout the middle of town. Zap
is about 15 miles south of Lake Sakakawea (which was formed by the largest earth filled
dam - Garrison Dam built in the 1950's to control downstream flooding on the Missouri
River). Zap is also 85 miles from Bismarck, which is our state capital. We
are only seven miles from the first coal gasification plant in the United States.
Most of our citizens work at the coal gasification plant, lignite strip coal mines, or
coal fired electrical generating plants. Some residents also farm, raising wheat,
sunflowers, and cattle.
U.S. Census Bureau Official Population
in the City of Zap