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Timeline: 1880s

By | Last Modified: May 30, 2019



  • Northern Pacific completes construction of the bridge connecting Bismarck & Mandan, it opens on October 21
  • Construction commences in June for the Bismarck National Bank building at a cost of $35,000. It will be the city’s largest private building upon completion. The bank rebrands as BNC National Bank in 1995 upon acquiring Metropolitan Federal Bank from Minneapolis-based First Bank System Inc.


  • Territorial capital of Dakota Territory is moved from Yankton to Bismarck. Construction commences on a capitol building.
  • Dakota Block is completed, Bismarck’s second oldest surviving building (October)
  • Several other significant construction projects include the First National Bank building for $65,000, the territorial prison for $50,000, the North Ward School (high school) for $30,000, and the Merchants National bank for $27,000.



  • Saint Alexius Hospital opens, the first hospital in Dakota Territory
  • Territorial prison is opened, now known as the North Dakota State Penitentiary
  • Fire destroys the Bismarck Tribune building on the 200 block of Main Avenue. The paper moves to the original Webb Building.
  • Original Morton County Courthouse is completed. The brick building is destroyed by fire in 1941.


  • Alexander McKenzie establishes the city’s first water system, pumping unfiltered river water through a system of pipes. It remained a privately-owned system until 1923, when residents passed a bond measure to acquire the water department and fund a filtration plant.
  • Citizens petition to change the name of Meigs Street to Broadway, which is accepted and adopted in March.


  • A ten-day blizzard buries the region (January)
  • First graduating class consists of two students
  • Hughes Electric is established by Alexander and Edmond Hughes. The company is instrumental in bringing electric power to the region. It is sold in 1928 to a company that is ultimately acquired by MDU.


  • Bismarck assumes role as capital of North Dakota upon officially entering statehood

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