The North Dakota Economy (1890-1915): An Overview
North Dakota became a state just as economic hard times hit farmers across the nation. The Homestead Act of 1862 and the westward development of railroads (the Northern Pacific crossed North Dakota between 1871 and 1881 and the Great Northern between 1881 and 1887) opened up millions of acres to cultivation. Production of crops such as wheat increased much faster than the demand, causing commodity prices to fall. The national recession of 1893 made the situation for farmers even worse.
After 1900, however, the situation changed. Demand for farm products increased as cities swelled with new immigrants. This created the Golden Age of Agriculture, 1901-1915, when the purchasing power of farm income had never been better. This was an age of farm prosperity which stimulated North Dakota’s Second Boom. Dependent upon the condition of supply and demand, North Dakota went from bust to boom.
The following North Star Dakotan stories recount this dramatic change in the state’s economy.
By Dr. D. Jerome Tweton
Originally published as The North Star Dakotan student newspaper, written by Dr. D. Jerome Tweton and supported by the North Dakota Humanities Council.