Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Valley City Incorporated


The village of Valley City was incorporated on this date in 1881. Founded seven years earlier, the village was the only settlement between Mapleton and Jamestown, an important stopping place for western settlers before crossing the Sheyenne River. Although the earliest settlers arrived in the valley in 1872, it wasn’t until the Northern Pacific Railroad plotted its course through the settlement that it began to grow.

The first white inhabitants along the Sheyenne River named their settlement Wahpeton, after the Native American tribesmen they encountered. However, before the Sheyenne Valley settlers were able to set up an official post office, the city of Richville in southeastern North Dakota changed its name to Wahpeton to establish its own post-office. So, Wahpeton of the Sheyenne Valley also had to change its name. For a time, the city became known as Worthington, after George Worthington, one of the early organizers of Barnes County. Worthington, along with his partner L. D. Marsh, was fundamental in the establishment and growth of the city. As part of a land deal made with the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1874, Worthington and Marsh were given reservations on the all the railroad lands in the two townships surrounding Valley City. Part of the agreement required that Worthington and Marsh create at least one town within the land parcels, which led the men to become promoters and developers in and around the small settlement that would become Valley City. The men purchased the land for three dollars an acre, and sold it to potential settlers for ten, and if the settler was hoping to build a town, they lowered the price of the plot to five dollars.

By 1879, Worthington had its first newspaper, the Northern Pacific Times and in 1881, the city was officially incorporated within Dakota Territory as the seat of Barnes County. With the incorporation, the city changed its name once again – this time to Valley City. By the early 20th century, Valley City was the sixth largest city in the state.

Dakota Datebook written by Jayme Job


Lounsberry, Clement Augustus. 1919 Early History of North Dakota: Essential Outlines of American History. Liberty Press: New York: p. 484, 487, 527, 531.