• 1805

    First recorded use: Lewis & Clark conduct test burn of lignite.
  • 1873

    First commercial mine opens in Morton County: Lt. Col. George Armstrong and troops accompany provide protection for early miners.
  • 1900

    A total of 73 underground mines operating.
  • 1910

    The Washburn Company's underground coal mine near Wilton is the largest in the state.
  • 1920

    North Dakota boasts 12 surface mines and 104 underground mines. By 1930, surface mines surpassed the number of underground mines due to increased productivity and safety.
  • 1928

    Otter Tail Power constructs Washburn power plant.
  • 1930

    The Truax-Traer Coal Company became the largest coal producer in the state with mines at Kincaid, Velva and Wilton.
  • 1941

    Number of mines declines from a high of 320 in 1940 to 296 in 1941 (more than half of remaining mines are surface mines).
  • 1951

    Lignite production reaches 3.2 million tons before declining to 2.3 million tons in 1958.
  • 1952

    William J. Neal Station begins operating at Velva (acquired by Basin Electric in 1973 - plant placed on ready-reserve in 1985 and dismantled in 1999-2000).
  • 1954

    MDU opens R.M. Heskett power plant at Mandan; second unit added in 1963.
  • 1966

    Basin Electric opens first major lignite-fired generating plant (Leland Olds Station) at Stanton.
  • 1967

    United Power Association finishes construction on the lignite-fired Stanton Station in Stanton.
  • 1970

    Minnkota Power Cooperative completes first unit of Milton Young Station at Center.
  • 1974

    Lignite Energy Council formed.
  • 1975

    Leland Olds Unit 2 in service at Stanton.
  • 1977

    Young Station Unit 2 in service at Center.
  • 1979

    Coal Creek Station Unit 1 in service at Underwood.
  • 1981

    Coyote Station in service at Beulah; Coal Creek Station Unit 2 in service at Underwood.
  • 1984

    Antelope Valley Station Unit 1 & Great Plains Synfuels Plant in operation at Beulah.
  • 1986

    Antelope Valley Station Unit 2 in service at Beulah.
  • 1986

    Lignite Energy Council hosts first teacher's seminar.
  • 1987

    ND Gov. Sinner creates Lignite Research Council.
  • 1990

    Clean Air Act Amendments passed to reduce Acid Rain.
  • 1994

    Lignite production reaches all-time high of 32.2 million tons.
  • 1995

    Knife River Coal Company closes its Gascoyne Mine near Bowman, ND.
  • 1999

    Great River Energy formed through the merger of Cooperative Power Association and United Power Association.
  • 2001

    Westmoreland Coal Company buys the Beulah and Savage Mines from Knife River Corporation.
  • 2004

    BNI Coal, Ltd. commissions its $38 million dragline, "Liberty".
  • 2006

    Lignite production in North Dakota at 30.3 million tons, marking the eighth consecutive year of more than 30 million tons of lignite produced.
  • 2006

    Blue Flint Ethanol commissioned using waste heat from Coal Creek Station.
  • 2010

    Open house held at Coal Creek Station for Great River Energy’s patented DryFining coal enhancement system. The DryFining project along with new scrubbers at Leland Olds Station and the Milton R. Young Station represent a billion dollar investment by the three generation and transmission cooperatives (Great River Energy, Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Minnkota Power Cooperative) to upgrade environmental systems at existing power plants.
  • 2011

    Great River Energy commissions Spiritwood Station near Jamestown, ND; expects to begin producing power in late 2014.
  • 2014

    Spiritwood Station east of Jamestown becomes operational on November 1, 2014. The dual fuel, heat and power plant is fueled by beneficiated lignite as well as natural gas.
  • 2016

    In June, the Coyote Creek Mine began selling coal to the adjacent Coyote Station. The mine is a subsidiary of North American Coal Corporation that owns two sister mines in North Dakota – the Freedom and Falkirk Mines.
  • 2017

    Over a span of a couple of years, North Dakota’s fleet of power plants installs technology to capture minute amounts of mercury from flue gases. The technology is developed by the Energy & Environmental Research Center through the Lignite Research Council.
  • 2018

    Dakota Gasification Company completes a three-year, $740 million urea plant at the Great Plains Synfuels Plant. With the addition, DGC now sells three nitrogen-based fertilizers – urea, anhydrous ammonia and ammonia sulfate. The plant also receives a majority of its revenues from the sale of fertilizer.
  • 2019

    EPA replaces the Clean Power Plan with the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule in June.