Part 5: The Frontier Army

Section 9: End of an Era

Major changes took place in North Dakota during the Frontier Era. Life for American Indians changed significantly. Thousands of Indians died in smallpox epidemics. The millions of bison that had roamed the plains almost became extinct. The American Indian people were forced to move to reservations. Their surroundings were totally reshaped, but their spirits remained strong. The culture of the American Indian tribes continues to enrich the people of North Dakota today.

Euro-American men and women who lived on the frontier opened the way for settlers who soon followed. The tracks of the Northern Pacific Railroad entered present-day North Dakota in 1872. This marked the end of the Frontier Era in North Dakota.

The steamboat Selkirk at Fargo, 1872

Figure 97. The steamboat Selkirk at Fargo, 1872. The Selkirk is next to the unfinished railroad bridge over the Red River. The Northern Pacific Railroad completed the bridge only months later. On June 6, 1872, the first train entered Fargo, Dakota Territory. The coming of the railroad marked the end of the frontier era in North Dakota. (Clay County Historical Society)