Rosser Avenue named after a Confederate veteran

Published: Jun. 15, 2020 at 7:58 PM CDT
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George Floyd's death caused riots to break out all over the world. Now, their focus is on military bases and Confederate statues that pay tribute to Confederate leaders.

North Dakota is a long way from the battlefields of the Civil War, but the name of a famous officer who fought for the South has been prominently displayed in Bismarck for years.

Several avenues in Bismarck are named after the surveyors and engineers who built the Northern Pacific Railroad through Bismarck in the 1870s.

Thomas Lafayette Rosser was the chief engineer for the Northern Pacific railroad company. Before that he fought for the Confederate States of America.

Not only did he fight, he commanded a cavalry unit in the Confederate army.

"He was a general in the Confederate army, he was acquainted with Gen. Custer, they had been classmates at West Point," said Sarah Walker, reference services.

It was after the war that Rosser took a job with NP as the railroad headed west. Brandon, Manitoba also has a street named after Rosser.

"Very common for people to name towns and streets after the people that worked on the railroad," said Walker.

He was on the survey crew investigating the area ahead of the tracks. He and his wife camped in the area for a short time, and because of that this road in Bismarck's core is named after him.

Sweet and Bowen avenues are named after other Northern Pacific employees

Mayor Steve Bakken told us he would not consider changing the name.