'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.
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.
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.
“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 prairiepublic.org, subscribe to the “Dakota Datebook” podcast, or buy the Dakota Datebook book at shopprairiepublic.org.