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On this date in 1872, a small community was staked out where the Northern Pacific Railroad met the Missouri River. Thomas Canfield, the railroad’s townsite agent, suggested they call it Edwinton in honor of the railroad’s chief engineer, Edwin F. Johnson, who had recently died. Attorney and physician Walter Burleigh built the first log house, Major Samuel Dickey took charge of Edwinton’s new post office, and members of the 7th Cavalry soon arrived aboard a steamboat called the Ida Stockwell.

Meanwhile, back in the boardroom, railroad officials were thinking they needed more German investors. As part of their strategy, they decided to change the name of Edwinton, and in July 1973, the settlement was given a new name: Bismarck.

Source: Douglas A. Wick, North Dakota Place Names, 1988