Maybe you have heard of some of these towns before, but you might not know their histories or namesakes. Most towns in North Dakota were platted and founded by the major railroad companies heading across the west, but these 9 places are a little different, and here’s why.
Grandin was once a huge bonanza farm owned by the Grandin brothers, hence the name. They cultivated thousands of acres of wheat. Before the railroad reached the town, they moved that wheat by barge on the Red River. One of the steamers used to tow the barges was named Grandin. The town was incorporated in 1881. And, interestingly enough, it was also one of the earliest places to adopt a telephone system in North Dakota.
This town was founded in 1902 and named after a beloved daughter. When the population of this town was declining at an alarming rate, they offered land for free with start up money. I don't think they offer is available anymore, and the population has never increased since its peak in 1940. It is currently standing at 225 residents and steadily declining.
You would think that Lisbon was named after the city in Portugal. Nope, it's named after the city Lisbon in New York, and
that city is named after the one in Portugal. The name for this specific Lisbon in North Dakota came to be because the founder's wife was from the Lisbon in New York. I wonder how many other Lisbons are out there?
4. New Rockford
This city, founded in 1883, fought with the state to move the capital from Bismarck to here in 1915. As we know, it was unsuccessful, but maybe in a parallel universe there is a North Dakota with New Rockford as the capital. I don't think it has quite the same ring as Bismarck...
Hmm, I wonder what this city was named for? If you guessed coal, you are correct! Of course Lignite was named after the lignite coal in the area. I can't say that's the most creative name I have ever heard of, but at least it makes its point clear. Lignite in Lignite? You betcha!
With a name like Riverdale, I was hoping for a history that maybe involved magical, bow-wielding elves, but actually this town's start is pretty interesting (albeit lacking in Rivendell elves). This town was originally a camp for construction workers building the Garrison Dam. After the dam was complete, workers from other camps and this one decided to stay and they all moved to the Riverdale camp. In 1953, it became a sort of makeshift town and the federal government, not the state, was in charge. This continued until 1986 when the government handed it over to North Dakota and it was incorporated as an official town.
7. New England
This town was the first town in Hettinger County and beat the rest by quite a margin. It was founded in 1887, when most others in that county were founded around 1910. And founded by, you guessed it, settlers heading west who were originally from places like Massachusetts and Vermont, who named the town after their origins.
This place isn't quite at the center of North Dakota, nor is it the center of the United States, or even the entire North American continent (that honor goes to Rugby, ND, of course). Center is, however, the center of something - Oliver County, where it is located. To add on to that, it is the only incorporated place in Oliver County and the county seat. So I guess you could say that Center is the center of attention in the center of its county. I'd say that name is a pretty good fit.
While most North Dakota towns were started by the railroad, this one beat them all to it with a different, earlier form of transportation: the stagecoach. There was a busy route that the stagecoaches used here and the town began right along it. Eventually the railroad came, the horse-based transportation died out, and it was officially founded in 1881, named after a passenger of the railroad.