Red River

Walk, bike, or even canoe this tour to learn about the Red.

Red River

Moorhead, Minnesota 56560, United States

Created By: Abbie Sherva

Tour Information

In 1990, Gary Goodrich and Mark Peihl developed this self-guided tour of historic sites along the Red River for canoeists, bicyclists and pedestrians. The map has been slightly updated since then, most recently in June 2018.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

The course of the Red River is slowly but constantly changing. As it flows, the river applies pressure to the silty soils on the outward sides of its oxbow bends. This pressure causes a scouring of the bank and a generally northward “slid... Read more
During the 1890s, the racing of horse-drawn sleighs on the frozen Red River was an extremely popular entertainment. Nearly every afternoon and evening would find fast horses racing on the mile-long course from about 20th Avenue South (near ... Read more
Before mechanical refrigeration, residents of Moorhead and Fargo used ice cut from the Red River to cool their food and drink. Companies from both cities cut huge blocks of ice from the river around Christmas, before it froze too thick. Dur... Read more
Because the elevation of Fargo is generally lower than Moorhead, Fargo has always suffered more from flooding. To ease this problem in the Island Park area, in 1959 Fargo built the dike that now stretches north from near Prairie Psychiatric... Read more
What is now the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theater parking lot was once the center for recreation on the Red River. From 1917 to 1959 Frank Dommer operated a boat and canoe rental business on the Moorhead side just across from Island Park. Ne... Read more
The mainline of the Northern Pacific Railroad reached the Red River in 1871. The following winter the NP built the first permanent bridge over the river, creating the towns of Moorhead and Fargo at either end. In the beginning, the railroad... Read more
Steamboat traffic began on the Red River June 8, 1859, when the Anson Northup set out on her maiden voyage bound for Fort Garry. But it wasn’t until the NP Railroad reached the river in 1871 that river commerce really came into its own. R... Read more
In 1889, North Dakota entered the union as a dry state. The state’s Constitution contained a provision requiring the closing of all saloons on June 30, 1890. As of that date, thirsty North Dakotans filled the Red River bridges as they flo... Read more
With improved roads and more reliable automobiles, vacationers in the 1920s tried something new: auto camping. To cash in on this craze, Moorhead built a tourist camp near its downtown riverfront. The camp included tent sites, a recreation ... Read more
This sharp bend in the river was Moorhead’s original residential district. In the 1870s, Moorhead’s early elite built substantial homes on the high ground in the center of the Point. Working class families occupied modest homes on the w... Read more
During the winter of 1880-81, a second railroad reached the Red River and had a significant effect on Moorhead and Fargo. James J. Hill’s St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba gave the Northern Pacific immediate competition by building branc... Read more
In 1875, the Larkin brothers of Winnipeg built a brewery almost exactly on the site of today’s tennis courts in Moorhead’s Riverfront Park. They soon sold their business to hotel owner John Erickson who served the local brew in his salo... Read more
The Moorhead Legion Hall was built in 1936 as a WPA depression relief project. The WPA mandated that the project put as many people to work as possible and the cost of the materials be kept to a minimum. With that mandate in mind, architect... Read more
In 1870, a year before Moorhead was established, 18-year-old Swedish immigrant John Bergquist homesteaded this site along the river. He cut logs in what is now Fargo’s Oak Grove Park and skidded them across the frozen Red to build his cab... Read more
The old toll bridge joining Moorhead and Fargo’s north side is the only privately owned bridge on the Red River. The span was completed by The Bridge Company in 1988 at a cost of $1.9 million. It was the first privately funded toll bridge... Read more
In addition to the downtown dike and dam construction, 1959 also saw a flood control project on Fargo’s north side. To hurry flood waters out of the city, engineers cut channels across the necks of three oxbow bends. The channels over two... Read more
German immigrant Randolph Probstfield was one of the first permanent white settlers in what is now Clay County. Arriving in 1859, he went to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company at Georgetown. In 1868 he built a log home on this point and be... Read more


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