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History of Bismarck, North Dakota

Original Capitol Building Burning 1930

Bismarck was founded in 1872 (as Edwinton) as the point where the Northern Pacific railroad would span the Missouri River. The city was renamed the following year to attract German settlement and investment.

Bismarck was named capital of Dakota Territory in 1883, and assumed the title for North Dakota upon entering statehood in 1889.

The area was previously home to several dominant native tribes, most notably the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Sioux, and Chippewa.

La Vérendrye was one of the first outside explorers to the area, around 1738. Explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark camped the winter of 1804-1805 at a site roughly 40 miles to the north, along with their Lemhi Shoshone guide, Sakakawea.