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Cass County North Dakota




The Cass County Courthouse is located at 211 9th Street, Fargo, ND 58108; phone: 701-241-5720.

Beginnings [1]

Sisseton and Wahpeton bands of the Sioux Native Americans occupied what is now Cass County. The first European settlers migrating west across North America were fur bearers. As such, the first settler in Cass County, Peter Goodman in 1866 or 1867, was an employee of the Hudson Bay Company. The new pioneers relied heavily on the areas waterways, settling along the Red, Wild Rice, and Sheyenne rivers for sources of wood, water, resources, and transportation.

The area now known as Cass County was originally part of Pembina County which included all of northern Dakota Territory east of the Missouri River. As settlement increased in the area, Pembina County was carved into several smaller counties. Cass County, named after George W. Cass, the President of Northern Pacific Railway, was officially created in 1873, with the first County Commission meeting being held on October 27, 1873.

The expansion of the Northern Pacific Railway crossing in 1871 at what now is Fargo marked the beginning of western development into the county. This expansion brought new settlers which combined with the discovery of the fertile soils of the Red River Valley created large bonanza farming operations. These settlers performed the arduous task of sod busting, exposing the natural soils to seed various small grains; spring wheat provided the areas first cash crop and its success largely responsible for the increased number of settlers into the region. The intensive farming practices of the bonanza farms contributed to the 1930's Dust Bowls and led to soil conversation practices used to prevent the erosion of the fertile topsoil.

The increased utilization of the automobile and the expansion and creation of a higher quality road network allowed residents to travel longer distance more rapidly and reliably. Regional trade centers grew as a result, providing more products and services within relatively short distance to the rural residents. As of late, the increased mobility has also allowed the residents of metro area the ability to live in the county's hinterlands and commute to the metro area for work, school, shopping, and recreation.

  1. Cass County Government, Cass County Comprehensive Plan, 2005, www.casscountynd.gov, accessed October, 2011.
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