What’s in a name?

Pioneer then and now

The Prairie-Pioneer Band on the front steps of Pioneer School, circa 1957 (left), and the abandoned Pioneer School building as it sits today. The band photo is part of William E. “Bill” Shemorry’s photo collection at the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet – just as Pioneer Generation Station, located northwest of Williston, ND, by any other name would still provide much-needed electrical stability to the Williston Basin.

As is, however, Pioneer Generation Station’s name serves as a fitting tribute to the area’s history.

The 45-megawatt natural gas-fueled peaking station was named after Pioneer School, a now-abandoned schoolhouse huddled on the vast North Dakota prairie about 25 miles northwest of Williston.

Kevin Tschosik, Basin Electric manager of distributed generation, happened upon the abandoned schoolhouse before construction started on Pioneer Generation Station, and suggested the plant be named after the school.

“When I saw the school, I thought about how that building was once filled with childrens’ voices and laughter, and how it would be nice to preserve that little piece of Plains heritage,” Tschosik says. “I am sure the community takes pride in that school.”

According to documents at the North Dakota State Historical Society, the school was estimated to have been built in 1917 and last housed students in 1985.

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