Northern Pacific Railroad: Fargo’s first industry

Railroad: The First Industry in Fargo


[1]                                                             [3]





When the N.P.R.R. crossed the Red River in 1871the city of Fargo was formed. The railroad fueled the city, bringing in large numbers of people and along with the people came the need for industry. Fargo grew around the railroad tracks as is visible in the above 1880 photograph. The main N.P. tracks travel East and West along Front Street. The railroad had spur tracks that ran to several businesses including Crockett & Shotwell Lumber.[3] Businesses along the tracks were some of the most profitable in the city as they had direct access to shipping and receiving goods. The businesses that were not located on the spur tracks had to use more common methods of transportation including horses, oxen, carts and human laborers.

The site of the railroad bridge crossing the Red River from Moorhead into Fargo was a very thought out, strategic and secretive plan. Thomas Hawley Canfield and George B. Wright traveled the Red River Valley in search of a crossing point that would not flood with the Red River in the spring.[2] Once N.P.R.R. was in control of both the eastern and western banks of the Red River and the crossing was announced, land speculators rushed to the area to purchase the very valuable land. These earlier settlers opened the first industries in Fargo and paved the way for the growth and prosperity of the town.

Logan Kern, Digital History 2012

[1] Regional Studies # 2029.8.7


[3]  Regional Studies # 2029.8.28

First National Bank

“It has been remarked that a city’s financial institutions, while they are the foundations on which her commerce must be built, are also mirrors which reflect the state of her trade and industry.” ~1881 [2]

First Bank, First National Bank

First National Bank; Leading Industries of Fargo; Chicago: Reed, 1881

The First National Bank of Fargo was formed in 1878. At the time, Fargo was a rapidly growing city, and it required banks that could handle the influx of wealth and money. The First National Bank grew quickly due to the reputation of the bank’s president and vice-president, E.B. Eddy and M.N. Hubbard. As is seen in the 1878 photograph, the town’s  “first” bank is what looks like a shed is located to the right of the newly built First National Bank building. The building to the left stands two stories tall and was 25’ x 100’ in size. Decorative brick ornamentation adorns the top, and the arched windows and doorways add a sense of prestige to the building. The old bank was built from wood, and this eventually gave way to the two-story stone bank.

-Logan Kern, Digital History 2012

[1] Regional Studies # 2029.8.10

[2] Leading Industries of Fargo: Chicago: Reed, 1881