In the beginning of the 21st century, Fargo-Moorhead has earned acclaim for its steady population growth, highly trained workforce and outstanding quality of life. Nearly 150 years after its creation, the metro is home to more than 224,000 people. And Fargo-Moorhead’s past might surprise you.
EARLIEST EUROPEAN SETTLERS
The Fargo-Moorhead region was part of the Sioux nation, and some of the first European settlers were Randolph and Catherine Probstfield. The couple established a family homestead in 1868 in what is now Oakport Township, Minn. The couple had 11 children and helped pave the way for other settlers looking for education and social activities in their new land. An elementary school in Moorhead bears their name.
RAILROADS AT THE HEART
The F-M metro would probably not exist if the Northern Pacific Railroad had not selected it for the site where they would build a railroad bridge across the Red River. The bridge was completed in 1872 and the Great Northern Railway soon followed. By 1906, the Great Northern depot was built on Broadway in Fargo and today is home to a bicycle store (The Northern Pacific depot, built in 1898, is home to the Fargo Park District). By 1970, the two railroads would merge to become Burlington Northern Railroad.
Fargo was experiencing rapid growth in the 1890s when the biggest fire in the history of the city was accidentally ignited on the afternoon of June 7, 1893 when someone threw out smoldering ashes from a restaurant on Front Street (now Main Avenue). Because most buildings in town were made of wood, the fire grew fast until it destroyed more than 140 residences and 219 businesses. After the devastating fire, city leaders required businesses in town to be built of brick.
Moorhead would not be what it is without Solomon G. Comstock – a successful businessman, lawyer and politician who donated six acres of valuable city property for the establishment of a teacher’s college (what is now Minnesota State University Moorhead). His historic home on Eighth Street in Moorhead is now open to visitors.
NOW THAT’S A FARM!
The area surrounding Fargo-Moorhead was among the first in the nation to operate bonanza farms – huge acreages for wheat production. Visitors to the region can celebrate bonanza farming and other history at Bonanzaville, U.S.A., a top tourist destination in West Fargo. A
DILLY OF AN IDEA
The popular Dairy Queen treat, the Dilly Bar, originated at the Moorhead Dairy Queen in 1955, when “Dairy Queen Bob” Litherland and a couple of brothers who supplied ice cream mix to the store swirled ice cream on paper, stuck a stick in it and dipped it in chocolate.
GUESS WHO ONCE CALLED F-M HOME?
Fargo-Moorhead was (or is) home to some pretty well-known celebrities. Singer Peggy Lee worked as a vocalist at WDAY-AM, ’50s teen idol Bobby Vee grew up here and Bob Dylan once worked as a busboy at a restaurant on Main Avenue. Homerun hero Roger Maris grew up in Fargo and three-time Stanley Cup champion Matt Cullen of the Pittsburgh Penguins calls Moorhead home.
EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN
One of the most iconic images in town (and one you’ll probably see anytime national media comes to town) is the Fargo Theatre sign. The theater was built in an old fruit store in 1925 and served the public as a cinema and vaudeville theater. After decades of disrepair, the theater was restored in the 1980s to its former glory and is now Fargo’s hottest downtown venue for concerts and other live events.