'Zip to Zap' party in 1969 North Dakota got bayonet-level rowdy

College students tried to make tiny Zap, North Dakota, the 'Fort Lauderdale of the North.' After a wild night, the national guard arrived to end to party.

ZIP to Zap Curt Krebsbach
Curt Krebsbach, left, is seen in this photo from 1969 moments after being stabbed in the lower back by a bayonet-wielding National Guard soldier. Krebsbach says a beer he dropped when he was stabbed can be seen on the ground.
Forum file photo by Colburn Hvidston III

ZAP, North Dakota — This week is the anniversary of the disaster known as Zip to Zap. Planned as an innocent spring fling , kids began descending on Zap, North Dakota, on Friday afternoon, May 12, 1969. By sundown the town of about 300 was swarming with some 2,000 drunk students.

When the town’s café and two bars closed for the night, a mob mentality took over. The National Guard was called in, and at sunrise on Saturday, troops prodded party-goers out of town with fixed bayonets. Many hung-over students headed for home, but unfortunately, about a thousand simply moved on to Beulah and then to Hazen.

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***Editor's note: This story was written by John Lamb and published on May 8, 2009. This story celebrates the 40th annual celebration of the "Zip to Zap" event in Zap, N.D. This week, May 9 - 11, was the 49th anniversary of the event***...
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Shortly after 4 a.m.
ZAP, N.D. --The weather could have been better for the 50th anniversary of Zip to Zap on Saturday, but then again it was somehow fitting that it would be cool and windy.

In near-riot conditions, kids threw bottles and rocks at the guardsmen who pursued them Adjutant General LaClair Melhouse later told of a young man who turned his back-end toward a guardsman and yelled, “Stick it...!” The guardsman obliged by jabbing the boy’s rump with his bayonet.

MORE PHOTOS: See more 'Zip to Zap' photos in the North Dakota State Archives

A Beulah doctor later stitched up the victim’s wound—but reportedly without the benefit of painkillers.


In this historical black and white photos, a person in a poncho watches as national guard troops march in a line down a small town street
Soldiers lowering their bayoneted guns to start moving protesters out of Zap, North Dakota, May 12, 1969.
Courtesy / James Peters via North Dakota State Museum

“Dakota Datebook” is a radio series from Prairie Public in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota and with funding from Humanities North Dakota. It is edited for presentation on Forum Communication Co. sites by Jeremy Fugleberg, editor of The Vault. See all the Dakota Datebooks at,  subscribe to the “Dakota Datebook” podcast, or buy the Dakota Datebook book at

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