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Bismarck 150th anniversary series: the founding

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 3:34 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The history of Bismarck goes all the way back to May 14, 1872, when George Sweet secured land for a townsite on behalf of the Northern Pacific Railway.

The town was called Edwinton during its first year, named for the chief engineer who championed for a northern transcontinental railroad.

However, Bismarck’s location today wasn’t where it was originally planned. Sweet was first asked to find land across from Fort Abraham Lincoln – then called Fort McKean, where the railroad was expected to cross the Missouri River at the mouth of the Little Heart River.

So, why the move northward?

Generally, it’s believed that squatters looking to cash in with land grabs forced Sweet to change his plans.

There are also accounts that the townsite was moved to avoid lowland flooding and a whole lot of mosquitos.

Camp Hancock was the first permanent establishment in the town that became Bismarck. It was mostly a supply depot got railroad construction. One of the buildings is still standing at the historic site.

On Tuesday, in our series celebrating the 150th anniversary of Bismarck, we’ll take a deep dive into the early days of the city.

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