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Grand Forks History, North Dakota


The land on which today the city of Grand Forks is situated was an important meeting point and a major trading point for many Native Americans during historical years. This was happening way before the Americans or Europeans started to settle down on this land. During the very early years, French explorers started to arrive in this land for business purposes. They were mostly interested in fur trading which was at its peak during those years. Many of them were explorers too. These French Explorers and businessmen called this city Les Grandes Fourches which means ‘The Grand Forks’.

It was during the 1740s when this land of Les Grandes Fourches had become an important trading center for the fur trappers who were coming to this city from France. It was the month of June 1870 when the name of the city was changed to Grand Forks and the U.S. government created a post office in this city on the same day. Alexander Griggs, who was a famous steam boat captain during those historical years, has been tagged as the “Father of Grand Forks” due to his major contribution in laying the foundation of this city.

Actually, it was the year 1870 when his steam boat froze in the middle of Red River and this is what forced his team to spend their winters in this city of Grand Forks. It was Griggs who platted this community in the year 1875 and finally in the year 1881 the city of Grand Forks was officially incorporated.

Between 1880 and 1887, the city of Grand Forks was gifted with many rail road lines by two major railway corporations namely Northern Pacific Railway and Great Northern Railway. The entry of railroad lines in this city of Grand Forks helped the city grow economically during the coming years. In 1883,   the city of Grand Forks was gifted with its first nationally recognized university.

The city of Grand Forks kept growing steadily during the first half of 1990s and it was this steady growth that actually helped the city during the bad times like the year 1997 when it was hit by a very severe flood.

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