What impact did immigration have on early North Dakota?
Native Americans were the first to arrive in North Dakota thousands of years ago; in the 18th century, the first Europeans explored the area and established some limited trade with the Indians; however, between 1879 to 1886, northern Dakota had a massive colonization “boom.” Over 100,000 people entered the territory over those years. After 1905, a second boom boosted the population from 190,983 in 1890 to 646,872 in 1920. Many of them were Scandinavian or Germanic immigrants. Foreign immigration was so widespread that almost 79 percent of all North Dakotans were immigrants or children of immigrants with the following impact on early North Dakota;
Most settlers who moved in were predominantly farmers. They established bonanza farms, which were highly mechanized, well-funded, and primarily focused on large-scale wheat production. These farms prospered on the Red River Valley’s rich black soil.
With the immigrants practicing agriculture, efforts to promote agricultural diversification contributed to an important chapter in railroad development. The railroads’ initial role was in opening this area to commercial agriculture.