North Dakota Highway Patrol

The North Dakota Highway Patrol was created in 1935 with a responsibility to enforce motor vehicle law on the state highways. Five patrol officers were sent to attend the Minnesota State Highway Patrol training program that year.

Upon completion of the training, the officers had to travel up to Duluth from St. Paul to pick up the five 1935 Buick coupes purchased for them which arrived by freighter from Michigan, and drive them back to Bismarck.

Those Buicks were eventually joined by two Fords, a Plymouth, a Lafayette and a motorcycle. 248,000 miles were patrolled by the NDHP from 1937 to 1939. 1951 was the year the NDHP adopted their symbol as Red Tomahawk, a Teton Dakotah (Sioux) Indian who lived on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation near Mandan.

His distinctive and impressive profile has been associated with the agency ever since. Once limited to only matters of traffic law and operator licensing, the scope of the NDHP's policing capabilities began to expand in the 1960's including the enforcement of criminal law on highway right-of- ways in 1967.

In 1983, there was a consolidation of the Truck Regulatory Division of the Highway Department into the Highway Patrol. The NDHP became an nationally accredited law enforcement agency (CALEA) on July 29, 1989. In 1992, a Canine Unit was introduced. Today, the NDHP has over 130 sworn Troopers providing safety and security of the residents and visitors to the Peace Garden State.

North Dakota State Flag

North Dakota's dark blue field displays a bald eagle holding an
olive branch and a bundle of arrows in its claws.
In its beak, the eagle carries a ribbon with the words
" One nation made up of many states". The shield on its breast
has thirteen stars, representing the original thirteen states.
The fan shaped design above the eagle represents the birth
of a new nation, the United States. The name "North Dakota"
appears on a red scroll below the eagle.


1935 issue Official use plate with State Patrol topper.

Picture courtesy of Jim Benjaminson

1936 issue Official use plate with State Patrol topper.
North Dakota HP Supt. Frank Putnam is shown here next to his 1935 Buick Model 40 Business Coupe.

Picture courtesy of Jim Benjaminson

1939 issue.
Embossed steel. Deep red over white.
Top portion is not a rocker or attachment but part
of the actual plate itself.

Courtesy of Jim Benjaminson collection
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

1947 issue- Embossed steel- black over yellow with separate
STATE PATROL attachment. The registration number is too high
on this example. Should be a number in the 200 bloc.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

North Dakota Highway Patrol Circa 1953.
12" x 5 1/4" embossed steel in passenger plate colors
(white over green in 1953) NORTH DAKOTA along top,
OFCL down left margin. Number between 201 and 242.

Picture courtesy of Jim Benjaminson

1954 Official use plate
Picture courtesy of Jim Benjaminson
 

1962- 1965 base plate.
Black over white embossed aluminum.
Number between 30-200 and 30-261 as well as
30-290 to 30-298.

Picture courtesy of Jim Benjaminson
 

1970-1973 Patrol car issue.
Badge number prefixed by number 30 and dash.
This plate was assigned to Retired
Captain David Messer prior to climbing the ranks

Picture courtesy of Jim Benjaminson

Picture courtesy of Jim Benjaminson

1970-1973 issue; NDHP officer's PRIVATE car plate with badge
number. The officer's patrol car plate would be prefaced with
"30-" hence the patrol car plates would read 30-259.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

1974- 1979 Patrol car issue.
Badge number prefixed by number 30 and dash.
This plate was assigned to Trooper Keith Ogden.
Picture courtesy of Jim Benjaminson

Picture courtesy of Jim Benjaminson

1980-1984 issue. Government official plate with G prefix followed
by number in 200's-350's. I have always been asked: "If this plate
was only used until 1984, then why does it have a 1987 expiry decal
on it?". The real answer finally came to me from Jim Benjaminson
who states that when the 1980 plates came out, that attempting to
validate the plates every year would be too much of a hassle, so a
multi-year decal or "tab" was affixed with 1987 as the expiry year.
When these plates were replaced by the Teddy Roosevelt base plate
in 1984, this left the 1980 plates with 3 unused years of validation
on the tab. This also answers the question why no other year tabs
were seen besides 1987 during this period. Mystery solved!

Plate courtesy of the Robert Ward Collection

Photo Courtesy of Monty McCord

Picture courtesy of Jim Benjaminson


Picture courtesy of Jim Benjaminson




Picture courtesy of the North Dakota State Patrol
1985 issue- This stunningly attractive plate was issued to commemorate the NDHP's 50th Anniversary.
Features full color emblem depicting Chief Tachankpe Luta (Red Tomahawk) a native police official himself.
Plates were issued from # 200- # 350, with also a #1 and one that reads NDHP. Three plates of each number were
issued with 2 for the front and back of the patrol car, and one as a keepsake for the assigned Trooper.

1984-1988 issue. Known as the "Teddy Roosevelt" base plate.
Offered as an extra-cost optional plate to North Dakota motorists,
the NDHP opted to use these plates on all of it's patrol vehicles.
Interestingly enough, the ND governor of the day, Allen Olson decided
to have a public contest to design ND's license plates when he took
over from his Democrat predecessor. Six or seven designs made the
final cut, and balloting took place in ND newspapers to decide which
design would prove successful. In what some folks may deem political
glad-handing, the Governor decided to lump aspects of all final
submissions into one crowded design as seen on this final outcome.
By trying to please everyone, he apparently pleased no one with this
"busy" layout which limited the plate to only 5 characters. Images
include Teddy himself who used to ranch in ND back in the 1880's,
a highway representing the two interstate systems in the state, the
state capitol, horses, a monument etc. Aside from this arguably
tragic design, Governor Olson's tenure in office was fraught with
other bad decisions, he never saw a second term and moved out of state.

Picture courtesy of Jim Benjaminson

1988-1993 issue- Commemorated state centennial.

Plate courtesy of the Robert Ward Collection

1993-2001 issue- "Discover The Spirit" slogan.
December expiry decals.



2001- Spring 2008 issue
"Lewis & Clark" base.
December expiry decals.

Plate courtesy of the Mike Crosby Collection

2010 issue 75th Anniversary base
Picture courtesy of Jim Benjaminson

Unknown age (1940's/50's)- Promotional license plate attachment (Approx 3"x3.5") Screened metal.