History

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City:

Grand Forks

County:

Grand Forks

State:

North Dakota

Incorporated:

February 22, 1881

Population:

54,358 (GF/EGF MPO Estimate

The history of the City of Grand Forks is consistent with other cities in the region.  After the Native Americans, the first visitors and settlers were trappers and traders, who utilized "les Grandes Fourches" to congregate and to set up a trading post.

Alexander Griggs, a steamboat captain, has long been acknowledged as responsible for the growth of Grand Forks from a trading area to a town.  The land he settled, in what is now downtown, became the nine-acre town site.  His efforts earned him the title, "Father of Grand Forks."

On February 22, 1881, Grand Forks incorporated as a city.

The first Mayor of Grand Forks was W.H. Brown (the city council had 12 members.)  In a matter of years the Grand Forks Fire Department, Police Department, the School District and a hospital emerged within the city.  Central School opened in 1881, followed shortly by Belmont and Wilder schools.

In 1954, the Federal Government chose a site just west of town as the site for a new Air Force Base.  It was originally classified as a "jet interceptor air base" and housed over 1600 people by 1960.

In 1997, when the Red River broke through the temporary dikes and inundated the city, community members, university students and base personnel fought together to hold back the water. However, at 54.35 feet, Grand Forks experienced the worst flood in its recorded history. The dikes broke, the city flooded and more than 50,000 residents were evacuated in the largest single-city evacuation in the United States since the Civil War.

Grand Forks has largely recovered from that flood and has built a permanent flood protection system.  With funding assistance from our federal and state governments, the careful oversight of local officials and city staff, and the outpouring of help from countless individuals and organizations, Grand Forks found its way back to normal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayors

Col. W.H. Brown
1881-1882

M.L. McCormack
1882-1884

J.S. Eshelman
1885

D.M. Holmes
1886-1887

Alexander Griggs
1888-1889

H.L. Whithed
1889-1893

W.J. Anderson
1894-1896

John Dinnie
1896-1904

George Duis
1904-1908

Dr. John Taylor
1908-1910

M.F. Murphy
1910-1914

Jas. A. Dinnie
1914-1918

Dr. Henry Wheeler
1918-1920

Grand Forks converts to City Commission style of government

Henry O'Keefe Jr.
President of City Commission
1920-1926

John L. Hulteng
President of City Commission
1926-1934

E.A. Fladland
President of City Commission
1934-1938

J. Earl McFadden
President of City Commission
1938-1940

Return of Mayor/Alderman System

T.H.H. Thoreson
1940-1944

Harold A. Boe
1944-1952

Oscar Lunseth
1952-1960

Nelson A. Youngs
1960-1964

Hugo R. Magnuson
1964-1972

C.P. O'Neill
1972-1980

H.C. Bud Wessman
1980-1988

Michael Polovitz
1988-1996

Patricia A. Owens
1996-2000

Michael R. Brown
2000 - Present