Williston, ND is a modern day boomtown caused by the oil exploration of the Marcellus Shale. This oil boom has caused a huge increase in temporary oil workers that are predominately men living in man camps many of whom commute to and from their home towards aboard the Empire Builder. This has caused ridership at Williston to quadruple rising from 16,659 in FY2004 to 54,324 in FY2012 making it by far the station with the highest ridership in North Dakota far surpassing Minot (29,511 in 2004, 37,169 in 2012). The station has always been important enough to be staffed by an Amtrak agent and has had baggage service so at least that isn't an issue. The stop is currently causing major scheduling difficulty to Amtrak because extra dwell time hasn't been added to the schedule for Williston although its definitely needed for the large volume of passengers getting on and off. It is not officially a smoke/fresh air stop but Amtrak Conductors understand the large volume of passengers getting on and off and will let you briefly step off although on my trip through when I got these photos no formal announcement was made. The station's overflowing parking lot is also a sign of the boomtown situation, although it wasn't paved until renovations in 2010!
The current station is located on the north side of a freight yard on the south side of the town of Williston at the foot and end of Main Street. It has a fairly long platform and when the Empire Builder is spot properly the entire train can platform although on my trip the rear Portland Sleeper was awkwardly stopped over a switch into the yard and the Sleeping Car attendant requested the train to be briefly stopped again to load passengers after some disembarking passengers had to awkwardly climb over the switching track. The platform itself is made of brick with a yellow safety line and stools required at all doors. Recent Recovery Act ADA improvements saw new Williston, ND signs and the addition of a brown wheelchair lift enclosure (just west of the station house). In the middle of the platform is the station's historic brick station house that was built in 1910. Williston is engraved in the stonework along the building above the entrance to the station's waiting room (I didn't have time to go inside). On the sides of the building are black with white text Williston signs. Just east of the station building is a modern but trying to look antique Williston clock.
To the west of the station house is a brick freight building used by BNSF, I believe it is the yard office. To the east set back from the platform is an old high-level freight unloading platform along a siding (it had two idling locomotives on it during my 2013 visit). Behind this platform is the station's newly paved parking lot. Even farther, barely visible from the station platform is a small park, City Park and has Steam Locomotive GN Class O-1 2-8-2 #3059 on display, it is attached to a former GN Caboose.
Photos 1-25 on 28 June, 2013
Last Updated: 19 August, 2013