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Casselton, North Dakota

casselton north dakota high school, casselton north dakota historical society
Casselton is a city in Cass County, North Dakota, United States1 The population was 2,329 at the 2010 census5 making it the twentieth largest city in North Dakota Casselton was founded in 1876 The city is named in honor of George Washington Cass, a president of the Northern Pacific Railway, which established a station there in 1876 to develop a town for homesteaders Casselton is the hometown of five North Dakota governors


  • 1 History
    • 11 2013 train derailment
  • 2 Geography
  • 3 Climate
  • 4 Demographics
    • 41 2010 census
    • 42 2000 census
  • 5 Area attractions
  • 6 Transportation
  • 7 Notable people
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links


Casselton had its origin in 1873 when the Northern Pacific Railway sent Mike Smith to plant cottonwood and willow trees in the area to serve as windbreaks along the right-of-way They planned to harvest the trees for lumber to use as railroad ties, but the experiment failed for a number of reasons

In 1874, Emil Priewe and his wife joined Mike Smith at the station The Priewe's son, Harry, was born on March 28, 1875 in a sod shanty, the first child born in the developing village Others came to settle and by 1880, the town had a population of 376, according to the official census A school was organized in 1876 and the town was incorporated as a village in 1880

The hamlet was variously called "the Nursery", "Goose Creek" and "Swan Creek", named for the stream that meandered through the area In 1876, the railroad established a station called Casstown, after George Cass, the railroad president When the post office was established on August 8, 1876, the name Casselton was designated

Marsh Self Binder at work on the Dalrymple Farm, 18776

During the 1870s, George Cass and Peter Cheney traded their railroad stock for 10,000 acres 40 km2 of land near Casselton and decided to develop the property as one large farm, rather than dividing the land into small tracts They employed Oliver Dalrymple, of southern Minnesota, to head the operation These Bonanza farms became highly successful and proved that the prairie was very suitable for agriculture

Various means were used to attract immigrants from Europe and migrants from the East looking for a piece of land or the chance to become tradesmen and professionals Casselton's population reached 1365 in 1885

The Great Northern Railway had an additional influence in the growth of Casselton Several branches radiated from the city The railroad excavated a reservoir to supply water for its steam engines In 1906 the railway constructed a round house and service center which operated until 1920 In the 1920s, railroad personnel were transferred to other locations, and as a result, the population of Casselton fell 285 persons between 1920 and 1930

Casselton installed a city water and sewer system in the mid-1920s Water was pumped from artesian wells, and stored in a standpipe which was located on the east part of town Today, that site is used as a winter skating rink Looking like a gigantic culvert, the standpipe was 110 feet 34 m tall and was kept until 1956

By 1957, the Great Northern Railway no longer had a need for the Casselton reservoir They deeded the 73 acres 300,000 m2 of land, which encompassed that body of water, to the City of Casselton The reservoir was developed to be used as a municipal water supply until March 1978, when the city's water started to come from the Leonard Phase of the Cass Water Users System The reservoir area has since been developed into a recreational center with softball diamonds, tennis courts, picnic tables and the like

The streets of Casselton were improved through municipal and state efforts In 1927, the downtown roads were graveled In 1930, as a US Works Progress Administration project under the President Franklin D Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression, the federal government paid local workers to pave State Highway No 18 through the city After World War II, the business district streets were paved with concrete Since that time, all streets and avenues have been hard-topped, and a modern storm sewer system was installed at the same time

The 1996–1997 school year opened with a newly completed, nearly $8 million Central Cass Public School building It replaced a three-story building on the same site, that was dedicated in 1912 and cost $50,000 The school district covers nearly 400 square miles 1,000 km2, and attracts over 800 students Because of the continued growth, an addition to the school complex was completed in time for the 2003–2004 school year

Casselton is known for its population of American red squirrels Central Cass High School uses the squirrel as its mascot7

2013 train derailmentedit

On December 30, 2013, a westbound BNSF train carrying soybeans derailed approximately one mile west of Casselton An adjacent eastbound BNSF train carrying crude oil struck wreckage from the westbound train accident location 46°54′482″N 97°13′5942″W / 469013389°N 972331722°W / 469013389; -972331722 The collision ignited the crude oil and caused a chain of large explosions, which were heard and felt several miles away8910 The resulting fireball created a massive cloud of black smoke, which prompted authorities to issue a voluntary evacuation of the city and surrounding area as a precaution The National Transportation Safety Board conducted an investigation, and in 2017 issued findings of probable cause, starting with a broken axle on the westbound train111213

Although no casualties were reported, the incident occurred in proximity to a populated area and renewed safety concerns regarding the transportation of hazardous materials by rail, especially in the wake of the Lac-Mégantic derailment in Canada earlier in the year Casselton mayor Ed McConnell, acknowledging that the town "dodged a bullet", publicly called on the federal government to review the dangers and urged lawmakers to consider pipelines as a safer option14


Casselton is located at 46°54′0″N 97°12′38″W / 4690000°N 9721056°W / 4690000; -9721056 46900028, −9721066815 According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 190 square miles 492 km2, of which, 187 square miles 484 km2 is land and 003 square miles 008 km2 is water2


This climatic region is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot and often humid summers and cold sometimes severely cold winters According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Casselton has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps


Historical population
1880 360
1890 840 1333%
1900 1,207 437%
1910 1,553 287%
1920 1,538 −10%
1930 1,253 −185%
1940 1,358 84%
1950 1,373 11%
1960 1,394 15%
1970 1,485 65%
1980 1,661 119%
1990 1,601 −36%
2000 1,855 159%
2010 2,329 256%
Est 2016 2,513 79%
US Decennial Census16
2015 Estimate17

2010 censusedit

As of the census3 of 2010, there were 2,329 people, 874 households, and 633 families residing in the city The population density was 1,2455 inhabitants per square mile 4809/km2 There were 926 housing units at an average density of 4952 per square mile 1912/km2 The racial makeup of the city was 973% White, 01% African American, 09% Native American, 01% Asian, 04% from other races, and 12% from two or more races Hispanic or Latino of any race were 24% of the population

There were 874 households of which 429% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 588% were married couples living together, 89% had a female householder with no husband present, 47% had a male householder with no wife present, and 276% were non-families 237% of all households were made up of individuals and 89% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older The average household size was 266 and the average family size was 317

The median age in the city was 346 years 314% of residents were under the age of 18; 54% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 276% were from 25 to 44; 253% were from 45 to 64; and 105% were 65 years of age or older The gender makeup of the city was 514% male and 486% female

2000 censusedit

As of the census of 2000, there were 1,855 people, 702 households, and 509 families residing in the city The population density was 1,3155 people per square mile 5080/km² There were 738 housing units at an average density of 5234 per square mile 2021/km² The racial makeup of the city was 9822% White, 016% African American, 027% Native American, 016% Asian, 011% from other races, and 108% from two or more races Hispanic or Latino of any race were 049% of the population

There were 702 households out of which 407% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 630% were married couples living together, 64% had a female householder with no husband present, and 274% were non-families 242% of all households were made up of individuals and 101% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older The average household size was 264 and the average family size was 316

In the city, the population was spread out with 316% under the age of 18, 59% from 18 to 24, 305% from 25 to 44, 202% from 45 to 64, and 118% who were 65 years of age or older The median age was 34 years For every 100 females there were 1061 males For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 1019 males

The median income for a household in the city was $43,259, and the median income for a family was $49,567 Males had a median income of $32,063 versus $22,614 for females The per capita income for the city was $18,248 About 26% of families and 53% of the population were below the poverty line, including 54% of those under age 18 and 121% of those age 65 or over

Area attractionsedit

Casselton was home to the world's largest oil can pile/free standing structure This tourist attraction was created in 1933 by Max Taubert when a Sinclair gas station occupied the lot that included a hamburger stand It is approximately 45 feet 14 m tall, and is made of thousands of oil cans It was rescued from possible demolition in 2008 by a group of local volunteers18 Unfortunately, the business that agreed to house the pile temporarily wanted the pile off its property and the pile was removed to an unknown location


  • I-94, US 52, ND 10, ND 18

Notable peopleedit

  • Andrew H Burke, 2nd Governor of North Dakota 1891–1893
  • Jack Dalrymple, 32nd Governor of North Dakota, 2010–present
  • John H Lang, highly decorated member of both the Canadian army and US navy
  • William Langer, 17th and 21st Governor of North Dakota 1933–1934 & 1937–1939, Senator 1941–1959
  • George Sinner, 29th Governor of North Dakota 1985–1992
  • Herman Stern, clothier, businessman, humanitarian, social and economic activist


  1. ^ a b c d e Geographic Names Information System GNIS details for Casselton, North Dakota; United States Geological Survey USGS; February 13, 1980
  2. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010" United States Census Bureau Archived from the original on July 14, 2012 Retrieved 2012-06-14 
  3. ^ a b "American FactFinder" United States Census Bureau Retrieved 2012-06-14 
  4. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates" Retrieved June 9, 2017 
  5. ^ "2010 Census Redistricting Data Public Law 94-171 Summary File" American FactFinder United States Census Bureau Archived from the original on July 21, 2011 Retrieved May 2, 2011 
  6. ^ Nolan, Edward W 1983 Northern Pacific views: The railroad photography of F Jay Haynes, 1876–1905 Helena, MT: Montana Historical Society Press p 9 ISBN 0-917298-11-X 
  7. ^ "Central Cass Football" maxprepscom Retrieved 12 July 2017 
  8. ^ Casselton train crash a ‘huge accident’ but a coincidence; Inforum; December 31, 2013
  9. ^ Alicia Nelson "UPDATE 3-Train collision in North Dakota sets oil rail cars ablaze" Reuters http://inreuterscom/article/2013/12/30/northdakota-derailment-idINL2N0K919L20131230, Dec 30th, 2013, retrieved Dec 30th, 2013
  10. ^ "As oil train burns, 2,300 residents of Casselton, ND, told to flee" Star Tribune December 30, 2013 
  11. ^ "NTSB Issues Probable Cause for Casselton, North Dakota, Crude Oil Train Accident" 
  12. ^ https://wwwntsbgov/investigations/pages/casselton_ndaspx
  13. ^ NTSB video on YouTube
  14. ^ "Train derailment: Mayor says ND town dodged bullet" KABC-TV Los Angeles December 31, 2013 
  15. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990" United States Census Bureau 2011-02-12 Retrieved 2011-04-23 
  16. ^ United States Census Bureau "Census of Population and Housing" Archived from the original on April 22, 2013 Retrieved July 21, 2013 
  17. ^ "Population Estimates" United States Census Bureau Retrieved June 2, 2016 
  18. ^ Casselton Can Pile

External linksedit

  • City of Casselton
  • Casselton, North Dakota : community fact survey 1967 from the Digital Horizons website
  • Souvenir book: Casselton diamond jubilee: June 16-17, 1954, Casselton, North Dakota from the Digital Horizons website

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