Wilson M. Laird portrait
  Wilson Morrow Laird


Wilson Morrow Laird became North Dakota State Geologist in 1941 at the age of 26, making him one of the youngest, if not the youngest, to serve as a state geologist in the United States. He held the position of state geologist and chairman of the University of North Dakota geology department for the next 28 years, roughly equaling the tenure of former North Dakota State Geologist A.G. Leonard (1903-1932).

Immediately, Dr. Laird went to work shepherding oil and gas conservation laws through the North Dakota State Legislature, fully ten years before oil would be discovered in North Dakota. These laws, based on the Interstate Oil Compact Commission’s Model Act, ensured the orderly development of oil and gas in North Dakota. The statutes made the North Dakota Industrial Commission the regulatory body for oil and gas and designated the state geologist the commission’s advisor and enforcer of the rules. In 1981, the legislature shifted those duties to the director of the newly created Oil and Gas Division.  

As a result of Laird’s work, the ND Industrial Commission and the ND Geological Survey were in possession of the cuttings and cores from the 25 wells permitted prior to the Clarence Iverson #1 discovery well in the Silurian section (Interlake Formation).

Due to Dr. Laird’s foresight, the Wilson M. Laird Core and Sample Library contains the most complete set of cores and samples in the nation.