Construction of a railroad route from Superior, Wisconsin to the Pacific was started in 1870 by the Northern Pacific Railroad Company. By 1881, they had completed laying track for their route across the whole state of North Dakota. In an 1871 survey done prior to construction, the current site of the city of Dickinson was listed as Pleasant Valley Siding. The particular site was chosen as a stop along the route because it was a halfway point between Bismarck (known as Edwinton at the time) and the Montana Territory.

Until 1880, white settlers did not have the right to settle in the area west of the Missouri River. That changed in July 1880 when President Rutherford B. Hayes reduced the size of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and a strip of land 200 miles wide along the railway was opened up for settlement. As fast as the railroad was completed, settlers followed. Many were employed with the railroad, but hunters, trappers and adventurers came west to Dickinson and southwestern North Dakota as well.

The train depot in Dickinson. It was built in 1908, replacing the original, smaller frame structure building.

In 1881, it was decided to change the name of Pleasant Valley Siding to Dickinson, after Senator Wells S. Dickinson of New York. Dickinson was in charge of land grants for the Northern Pacific Railroad. The town of Dickinson was first surveyed and platted in 1882, with the original plat situated north of the train depot.

The blue shaded area are the blocks included in the original plat for the town of Dickinson. The train depot is located at the intersection of Sims Street and Villard Street.

From the beginning, the railroad and paralleling highway, US Highway 10, were the main routes through Dickinson. People coming to Dickinson likely came along one of those routes. Subsequently, the majority of businesses were situated along that route. In 1964, Interstate 94 was completed along the northern edge of Dickinson and in 1979 the last passenger train to come through Dickinson. The traffic flow through Dickinson shifted and with that, businesses began to build and relocate along or closer to the new interstate.

The Northern Pacific Railroad merged with several other rail companies in 1970 to create the Burlington Northern Railroad. In 1995 another merger occurred and it became the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway, shortened to BNSF Railway in 2005.

The caboose and track were placed in Prairie Outpost Park in 1985 by Burlington Northern Railroad.

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