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Oakes' Origin


Oakes, North Dakota was founded on this date in 1886. Drawing its name from a Northern Pacific Railroad official, engineers platted the Dickey County town two weeks later, and four weeks after organizing, Oakes became a Northwestern Railroad station.

One month later, town lots went up for sale, ranging from less than $150 to more than $350. Seventy lots were sold that day, bringing in $13,000. The Oakes' district representative was elected that November to the Territorial House of Representatives. The town's first preacher, schoolteacher and postmaster arrived that fall.

Eight months later, Oakes had three elevators and three hotels. The town incorporated as a city in 1888, and had a population of just under 400 by 1890. By 2000, over 1,900 people called the city home.

A prominent railroad town about a mile east of the James River on the drift prairie, Oakes is an agricultural magnet in southeastern North Dakota. Local crops include wheat, corn, soybeans and even honey. Livestock produced in the Oakes area varies, with cattle, buffalo and even emu.

Five sites in Oakes are included on the National Register of Historic Places. These include its post office, bank block, and an octagonal barn. A heritage museum and park were dedicated in the 1990s, giving a glimpse into Oakes' past with old buildings and historic displays.

Oakes is located in Dickey County, and the town holds nearly a third of the county’s population. Despite its size, Oakes is not the county seat. That honor goes to Ellendale, founded in 1882, the same year Dickey County was organized.

Living by the slogan “Building the Future Together,” Oakes bloomed, becoming one of just 33 of the state’s 357 cities to have over 1,500 people.

Dakota Datebook written by Jack Dura


Oakes Area Chamber of Commerce. (2013). About Oakes. Retrieved from:

"https://oakesnd.com/" https://oakesnd.com/

U.S. Census Bureau. (2013). Ellendale city, ND. Retrieved from:

"https://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=kf7tgg1uo9ude_&met_y=population&idim=place:3823220&hl=en&dl=en" https://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=kf7tgg1uo9ude_&met_y=population&idim=place:3823220&hl=en&dl=en