In 1873, the community of Edwinton in the Dakota Territory was the railroad terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad, which was having trouble attracting investors. So Edwinton was renamed Bismarck in honor of Germany's first chancellor, in the hopes that he would chip in some money for development. He didn't. But the name stuck – and 140 years later, the area is booming in a way that few people could have imagined 30 years ago.
The reason: The western part of North Dakota has experienced an oil boom, which in March pushed the state past Alaska as the No. 2 oil-producing state in the US after Texas. By the end of September 2012, North Dakota had produced more oil for the year than in all of 2011. That boom has spread to the state's capital on the eastern edge of the state, where jobs are going begging. At 2.2 percent, Bismarck has the lowest unemployment rate of any metropolitan area in the nation and is No. 9 in terms of annual growth in the number of jobs.