Experienced craftspeople have their pick of jobs, but they are not alone in chasing their fortunes to North Dakota. Criminal activity is on the rise with the population boom, and some Bismarck residents are distrustful of workers come to fill the roles of roughnecks, pipe fitters, fuel men and more.

"I wish you could have visited sooner," says one ex-resident who asked not to be named. "It's just not the same anymore," she said, fighting back tears and turning away before finishing her sentence. But others say they welcome the excitement all the construction brings.

"Things are buzzing," says Heidbreder. "When population goes up, crime goes up as well, and no one likes that. But we're dealing with expansion problems we never thought we'd have. We're building cities."