Bismarck, city (2020 pop. 73,622), state capital and seat of Burleigh co., S central N.Dak., on hills overlooking the Missouri River; inc. 1873. The trade center for a large spring-wheat, livestock, and dairying region, Bismarck is also a financial and telecommunications center, and development of the oil reserves in the nearby Williston Basin is important. Lewis and Clark camped nearby in 1804–5. With the beginning of river traffic in the 1830s, a steamboat port called the “Crossing on the Missouri” emerged here. In 1872, Camp Greeley (later Camp Hancock) was erected to protect workers building the Northern Pacific RR. When the railroad reached the fort the next year, a town was laid out, subsequently named Bismarck in the hope of attracting German investment in the railroad. Bismarck boomed as a river port and railroad center, a gateway for western expansion, and supply point for the Black Hills gold rush (1874). It became the territorial capital in 1883.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. Political Geography