The Flip of a Coin

At this year’s Kickoff presentations across the country, NPL gave its longest-tenured employees a 50th anniversary commemorative coin. Though coins are often used to honor momentous occasions, coins have a special significance in NPL history.

In 1964, NPL founder Noel Coon, who was living in Tennessee, had just completed a six-month long transmission pipeline job in the surrounding area. In typical pipeliner fashion, he and his wife packed up and headed west to look for the next job. At U.S. 51 in Tennessee, Noel came to a crossroads. He could head north to Gonvick, Minnesota, where his wife was from, or he could head south towards his own roots in Texas. So Noel flipped a coin. Chance had it that he would go north. Over the next few years, as he continued to follow pipeline work throughout that area and all the way to Area 51 in Nevada, the people of Minnesota made the strongest impression on him. “I saw something in those people up north that I hadn’t seen before,” he said. “They were good, honest, hard-working people. Farm boys. They were tough physically and mentally. They had grown up around trucks and tractors and were used to working in bad weather. I thought, These guys’ll make great pipeliners. They’re really good people, and this is a good place to live.” Later in late 1967, Noel established NPL in Gonvick, the same place that the flip of a coin directed him three years earlier.

On the left side of NPL’s anniversary coin, the 50 stars symbolize NPL’s 50 years. On the right is a rendering of Noel Coon operating a sideboom in NPL’s early years.