Land of Opportunity
Friday, April 14, 2017
The 1890s were not kind to North Dakota. The price of wheat declined by 70%. High railroad rates hurt farmers. State tax receipts decreased, and the state had difficulty paying its bills.
That changed, however as the period from 1898 to 1915 brought North Dakota’s second boom. Railroads almost doubled in size, increasing from 2,662 miles of track, to 5,226. Where the railroads went, people followed. The population of the young state increased by 135 per cent. Towns blossomed into cities. Bismarck grew from 2,100 residents to 5,400. Minot exploded from a population of 2,100 to 6,100.
On this date in 1910, the Ward County Independent printed an editorial that highlighted the important role of newspapers in attracting people to North Dakota. The Independent announced in an editorial that the newspaper had attracted many young men by publicizing the opportunities in the state. In the spring of 1910, dozens of young men arrived, lured by the promise of good employment.
This was illustrated by a man who arrived at the office of the Independent and presented a letter of introduction from a subscriber living in Chicago. The writer of the letter stated that he believed North Dakota was a land of opportunity and had encouraged his friend to make a new start there. The writer of the letter described the man as honest and hardworking, and hoped the newspaper could help him get a job. The letter stated that anything the editor of the newspaper could do to help would be greatly appreciated.
The editorial stated that while many new people had arrived in the state looking for work, it was far from enough. The farmers still needed more help, and jobs were to be had for anyone wanting work. The editor was quickly able to arrange work for the young man with farmer just north of Minot. The job paid $35 a month, with all expenses paid. The editor was confident that if the new North Dakotan carefully saved his money, he would soon own a farm of his own. That was something he could not hope for had he stayed in Illinois. The editor closed by urging young men to “Come west and grow up with the country!”
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
Ward County Independent. Editorial Comment. 14 April, 1910.
North Dakota Studies. “The Second Boom Explained.” http://www.ndstudies.org/articles/the_second_boom_explained Accessed 12 March, 2017
North Dakota Studies. “The 1890s in Review.” http://www.ndstudies.org/articles/the_1890s_in_review_economic_problems_plague_state Accessed 12 March, 2017.