North Dakota was home to the last major gold rush in the United States, which occurred in the late 1800s. The discovery of gold in the state's Black Hills region attracted thousands of prospectors, many of whom settled in the area and helped to establish the town of Deadwood.
Barnes County, located in the southeastern part of North Dakota, has a rich and diverse history that dates back to the 19th century. The area was originally inhabited by the Dakota Sioux Native American tribe and later became a part of the Dakota Territory. In 1872, Barnes County was officially established and named after Alanson H. Barnes, a Republican politician of the time.

The arrival of European settlers in the 1870s brought significant changes to the region. The growth of agriculture, particularly wheat farming, became the backbone of the local economy. The introduction of the railroad in the late 19th century further fueled growth, as it provided a means for transporting goods and people to and from Barnes County. Numerous small towns, such as Valley City, Litchville, and Wimbledon, were established as economic and social centers for the surrounding rural communities.

In the early 20th century, Barnes County faced several challenges, including the Great Depression and changes in agricultural practices. However, the construction of the Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway in the 1930s helped boost tourism and brought new opportunities to the area. Additionally, the establishment of Valley City State University in 1890 provided educational and cultural resources to the community.

Over the years, Barnes County has continued to evolve and adapt to a changing world. Today, it remains an important agricultural region, known for its wide-open landscapes and friendly communities. The county's historical sites, museums, and festivals serve as a reminder of its rich heritage and the contributions made by its residents throughout the years.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Barnes County, North Dakota.

  • 1870: Native American tribes settle in the area.
  • 1872: Fort Ransom is established by the US Army.
  • 1874: European settlers arrive and begin farming in the region.
  • 1879: Barnes County is officially organized and named after Judge Alanson Barnes.
  • 1881: Valley City becomes the county seat.
  • 1882: The railroad reaches Valley City, stimulating economic growth.
  • 1910: The Sheyenne River Valley is hit by severe flooding.
  • 1920s: The agricultural economy booms, with wheat and corn as the main crops.
  • 1930s: The Great Depression brings economic hardships to the county.
  • 1957: Valley City State University is established.
  • 1980: Valley City experiences a devastating tornado.
  • 2000s: Barnes County sees a decline in population due to rural-to-urban migration.