- Name of city: Casselton
- Name of mayor and/or city manager: Lee Anderson, Mayor
- Current population: 2600
Tell us about the history of your city. When was the community founded or incorporated, and how did it become what we know it as today?
The city that has been home to five North Dakota governors got its start as a windbreak.
It was 1873, and the Northern Pacific Railway sent Mike Smith to plant cottonwood and willow trees in the area to serve as windbreaks along the railroad’s right-of-way. The idea was to harvest the trees and use them for railroad ties when the trees grew to maturity. As that experiment was growing, the one-man hamlet was called "The Nursery," "Goose Creek" and "Swan Creek" for a stream that meandered through the area.
In 1874, the railroad established a station there and called it Casstown after George Cass, the railroad president. On August 8, 1876, the spot was named Casselton and a post office was established. When the town was incorporated as a village in 1880, the official census was 376. During the 1870s, George Cass and Peter Cheney had traded their railroad stock for 10,000 acres near Casselton and decided to develop the land as one large farm rather than dividing the land into small tracts. They employed Oliver Dalrymple, who was from southern Minnesota, to run the operation. The venture was highly successful and proved that the prairie was suitable for agriculture. Meanwhile, the community continued to grow, and by 1885 the population had reached 1,365.
Like the Northern Pacific, the Great Northern Railway influenced Casselton’s growth significantly.
In 1927, the city graveled the downtown roads, and in 1930, State Highway 18 through the city was paved as a Works Project Administration project. Following World War II, the city paved the business district streets with concrete. By 1957, the Great Northern Railroad no longer had a need for the Casselton reservoir and deeded the 73 acres of land, which encompassed that body of water, to the City of Casselton. The city developed the reservoir as a municipal water supply until March 1978. The reservoir area has since been developed into a recreational center with softball diamonds, picnic tables and other amenities.
In 2000, the U.S. census counted a little more than 1,800 residents in Casselton. That figure increased by about 25 percent by 2010, when our population had grown to more than 2,300.
What kind of growth have you seen throughout recent years in your community? What is the business climate like? Housing market? Education?
Casselton has continued to grow steadily over the last 25 years. With the hiring of a full-time economic development professional in 2020, the community is committed to ensuring businesses are fully supported and poised for growth. With this new hire came additional support for businesses struggling throughout COVID-19, as a local source for direct assistance to businesses.
What do you think makes your community unique? What could we expect if we visited?
Casselton residents work very diligently together to partner with local government on various projects. One such highlight would be the $26 million expansion and renovation project for Central Cass School which was completed in the fall of 2018. The expansion features included a 32,000 square-foot early education building that connects to the existing elementary school, replacement of the existing practice gymnasium with a new 53,000 square-foot multi-purpose gymnasium, theater and wellness center, including support spaces, locker rooms, new administration offices, as well as new band and choir facilities, and remodeling to support a new STEM and Science Classroom. Athletic facility improvements made included a new synthetic turf football field as well as new track and field facilities. This is known as the largest public-private partnership within a public school system in the state of North Dakota and was completed under the direction of Superintendent Morgan Forness.
This isn’t the only such project in Casselton. The community is very generous with donations to several other projects including the Central Cass Treehouse (a volunteer-driven in-school clothing/food/personal care item store free to those in need with discrete service and care), Casselton Heritage Center and many other groups and amenities.
What issues are city leadership paying close attention to right now?
Casselton’s City Council is paying close attention to the land use and growth potential of our community – including both commercial and residential. We have many beautiful housing lots for sale from private developers, as well as plenty of room in our industrial park. The council is working hard to thoughtfully plan for our future.
Great leaders build great communities.
We're the home of five North Dakota Governors.
We think it's pretty neat.