Red River Real Estate
There was a time when land prices in North Dakota were low because there was little demand. Many people who wanted to move west shied away from the state because of tales of Indian attacks and general lawlessness. The notoriously cold weather also did nothing to encourage newcomers. Consequently, there was more than enough land for those hardy souls who chose to live in North Dakota.
The main impetus for settlement was the 1862 Homestead Act, which allowed stake a claim on land and prove it up for ownership. Still, by the 1870 census, there were only 2,405 inhabitants, a record that obviously excluded most native peoples. But by 1890, in the first census following statehood, there were 190,983 residents, a count which was also better at including Indians.
On this date in 1900, an article in the Bismarck Tribune indicated that North Dakota’s boom in population was not a fluke. The paper announced that the demand for land was growing, especially in the Red River Valley. The newspaper reported that thousands of new settlers were arriving. Land speculators were buying up hundreds of thousands of acres at a time. One example cited was a letter to the Tribune from South Dakota. Four families wanted to purchase ranch land in Burleigh County where they planned to raise cattle. Another example recounted a visit the previous summer when dozens of visitors from Iowa had flocked to the state to look for land. The Tribune reported that the Iowans had bought up thousands of acres, primarily in the Red River Valley. Bottom line, the paper was confident that North Dakota was growing rapidly and would continue to do so.
The national census would confirm the newspaper’s assessment. By the 1900 census, the population had grown to 319,146. It continued to grow, reaching 680,845 by 1930. That changed, however, in the following decade. By 1940, the population had decreased, the Great Depression and ongoing droughts bringing tough times.
There have been ups and downs since, but North Dakota has seen overall growth. Today the population has nudged up to almost 760 thousand, placing the state 47th in population, ahead of only Alaska, Vermont and Wyoming. In contrast, California ranks number one with more than 39 million residents! 51 times as many as North Dakota.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
Bismarck Tribune. 13 January, 1913.
North Dakota State University. “North Dakota Population.” "https://www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/~sainieid/north-dakota-historical-population.html" https://www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/~sainieid/north-dakota-historical-population.html Accessed 14 December, 2016.