In February 1879, the Northern Pacific Railroad laid track directly on the ice on the frozen Missouri River. Carloads of construction materials were transported to the low-lying relatively level west bank. A new townsite was being platted under the direction of NP Division Engineer Thomas Rosser. After platting of the town was completed, Rosser's business car was used as a real estate office to sell lots to the public.
Mandan was the headquarters of the Missouri Division, which would extend 200 miles from the Missouri River to the Yellowstone River at Glendive, MT. The July 1879 contract awarded to the firm of Smith & French to construct the section houses and water tanks also included a depot at Mandan. The depot was built on the south side of Main Street at its intersection with Stark Avenue (later renamed Collins Avenue).
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The first depot in Mandan, designed by Rosser in April 1879, was a one-story structure 24 feet by 70 feet with a gable roof and a 12-foot platform all around.
In 1892, the flag pool from Fort Lincoln was moved and installed in front of the building.
After the new "Queen Anne" depot was built 3 blocks to the west, the building was expanded and used exclusively as a freight house.
Exerpt from 1910 Wm Brown Line Sketch of Mandan
In 1913, the building was sold and moved to make room for a four-story brick warehouse constructed along the main railroad by the Missouri Valley Grocery and Produce Company (later purchased by the John Iverson Company and now remodeled and home to a bank).
The prior wood building was moved to the northeast corner of First Street NE and Third Avenue NE and converted into a duplex dwelling. When it was torn down in about 1980, the bay window was salvaged and given to the State Historical Society, which reportedly has it in storage.
Main St traffic in foreground, original wood depot building circa 1885 after freighthouse expansion. Roundhouse in background.
The MHSoc's museum and office is located at 3827 30th Avenue NW; Mandan, ND 58554 Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org