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Wahpeton City

Wahpeton City Hall is located at 1900 4th Street North, Wahpeton, ND 58075; phone: 701-642-8448.

The Whapeton/Breckenridge (MN) Chamber of Commerce promotes the tagline, "Two States, Two Cities, One Community."

Beginnings [1]

Morgan T. Rich for who Richland County was named, made the first settlement at Wahpeton July 22, 1869. Mr. Rich visited the Red River Valley in 1864, when he crossed over the plains from Fort Ridgeley, Minnesota, to Helena, Montana as one of a party having 122 wagons going to the mines. They were escorted to the Missouri River by Minnesota troops, and from Fort Rice, on the Missouri River, to Glendive, Montana by General Sully, whose command numbered about four thousand cavalry and mounted infantry, and he had a train of two hundred or more wagons of his own. Anson Northrup was his wagon master.

Captain Rich remained in Montana until 1868 when he returned to his old home at Red Wing, and in 1869 came to the Red River Valley and located at Wahpeton as stated. The St. Paul and Pacific Railroad had then been extended as far west as Smith Lake, in Wright County, Minnesota, and was pushing on toward the Red River.

Rich remained alone at Wahpeton until May, 1871, entertaining an occasional immigrant en route down the valley. His garden was known as a model, and Mr. Rich as a successful farmer in a small way. He secured a ferry charter from the commissioners of Pembia County and by the time immigration commenced in 1871, was ready to transfer the wanderers across the Bois de Sioux, near its confluence with the Ottertail. Mr. Rich operated the ferry until 1876 when a bridge was built by subscription.

In May, 1871, Mr. Rich was joined by Alvah Chezik, Matt Lawrence and Simon Woodsum, young men without families.

Richland County was organized in 1873. In connection with his ferry, Mr. Rich laid out a townsite at Wahpeton. Next to his house, the first building erected was a store by Jacob Mourin, who was killed by lightning while washing windows, within a month from the time he opened up for business. John Kotscheaver succeeded him and remained in trade until 1885, when he was succeeded by his brother, Jacob. M. T. Rich and John Q. Burbank erected a building, 16x22, which was used for county purposes after the organization of the county.

Miss Mary Keating, afterwards Mrs. Shea, taught the first school at Wahpeton, and Miss Sarah Rich, the second.

  1. Colonel Clement A. Lounsberry, Founder of the Bismarck Tribune, Early History of North Dakota, Essential Outlines of American History, Liberty Press, Washington, D.C., 1919
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