Looking to learn a little more about our cities? Check out the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo’s full Press Kit, or continue on reading for the gist of it.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
Fargo’s original name was Centralia, but was renamed after the Northern Pacific Railway director and Wells Fargo Express Company founder William G. Fargo.
Moorhead also garnered its name from a bigwig guy with the name William G. — in this case, William G. Moorhead, an executive of the Northern Pacific Railway.
During construction of the railway over the Red River, eager land speculators wanted to buy up the land and charge the railroad to use it. So, sneaky railroad officials marked a false route a few miles north of Moorhead to throw them off. This area, now Oakport Township, was known for years as “Bogusville.”
REALLY GOOD AT DIVORCES
In the 1880s, Fargo became known for its “10-Minute Divorce” as lax local laws allowed for quick and easy splits. Famous (and un-famous) people flocked to the city to get divorced.
WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE
On the afternoon of June 7, 1893, the worst fire in Fargo’s history — duly named the ‘Great Fire of 1893’ — destroyed the city. City hall, the business district, and the homes of most of Fargo’s 6,000 residents went up in flames, spreading from Front Street (now Main Avenue) to the north. 160 acres, 31 blocks, 219 businesses, and 140 residences were left in ashes. We’ve since learned not to build our entire city out of wood; you’ll notice most downtown businesses are now brick (and still standing!)
HANG YOUR HAT
Scandinavian and European immigrants settled the area and when Northern Pacific Railroad arrived in 1871, Fargo-Moorhead became a boomtown.
The Homestead Act furthered this boom as settlers were given 160 acres of land in exchange for living and farming it for at least five years. Hopeful refugees from the overcrowded east swarmed to the area, arriving in a constant stream on the railroad and looking for fresh starts on America’s newest frontier.
A CITY DIVIDED
The Red River of the North separates Fargo from Moorhead, also serving as the border between North Dakota and Minnesota — a visit here is an easy way to knock two states off your list.
While agriculture is still the main economic industry, professions like education, medicine, government and manufacturing play a large role in the city’s modern-day economy.
Surprisingly to some, Fargo also has a booming technology start-up industry that harnesses the spirit of the early pioneers. Fortune.com calls it ‘the most undervalued tech hub’ in America.
Major players like Myriad Mobile, CoSchedule, and Botlink dominate in the tech field, alongside niche market leaders like Weather Modification Inc. and Appareo Systems.
Giants in the area include Microsoft (which houses its second largest campus in the world in Fargo), Bobcat, Cass-Clay, and Titan Machinery.
A city of big ideas, Fargo is quickly becoming one of the top places to flock for young entrepreneurs according to Forbes, Fortune.com, and CNN Money (just to name a few). With an unemployment rate of 2.5%, we don’t blame them.
LIKE ATLANTIS…SORT OF
Less than 10,000 years ago, the area that is now Fargo-Moorhead was 200 feet below the surface of Lake Agassiz, a huge inland sea formed at the end of the last Ice Age.
Over centuries the waters receded, leaving six feet of rich, black soil that today make the Red River Valley one of the world’s most fertile farmlands, with Fargo-Moorhead at its center.
RED RIVER OF THE NORTH
Where the Bois de Sioux and Otter Tail rivers meet, the Red River of the North begins, winding upward for 550 miles before joining the Nelson River in Canada and ultimately spilling into Hudson Bay.
Flow direction: North
Average slope: ~½ ft per mile
Depth: 10-30 ft
Width: 100-500 ft
Color: brown due to the rich soils of the valley
Hot and breezy summers, arctic and snowy winters, about a month of fall, and two weeks of spring.
Summer high: 83°F in July
Winter high: 18°F in January
Snow: 52 inches/year
Rain: 24 inches/year
Wind speed: Fast
In 1988, the record high reached 106°F.
In 1982, the record low reached -38°F.
Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo metro population: 238,124
Area: 48.82 square miles
Terrain: Flat as a pancake
Wind: Oh yeah, you betcha
Located on the border of North Dakota and Minnesota.
A two hour drive from the Canadian border and 3 1/2 hours from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Hector International Airport has several direct flights and budget airlines that fly into and out of Fargo, making entry a breeze.
The passenger AmTrak trains have a stop right in Downtown Fargo, just a minute’s walk from many major sites like the Fargo Theatre.
At the intersection of two major interstates (I-29 and I-94), a stop in Fargo makes a great interlude to long journeys.