Last revised: May 04, 2013
History Album INDEX
Underwood, North Dakota
Store Fronts Underwood Cemetery
THE MYSTERY: "Who was Underwood REALLY named after?"
(1894) - Elevator View of our 'Hometown'
The town of Underwood was organized in 1903 and celebrated its Centennial in 2003.
| July 4, 1903 is the date registered in the courthouse
of McLean County that established the town of Underwood. It was named for
FRED J. UNDERWOOD.
However, there has always been some doubt about Mr. Underwood. He was the general manager of the Washburn, Bismarck, Great Falls Railroad at the time the town's plat was filed. At that period in history it was common for wealthy entrepreneurs like the owners of the railroad and town property to create a namesake; a sign of tribute to someone.
Through the years the story of this man, Fred Underwood, has been garbled and lost among the pages of the town's history. The files of North Dakota's Historical Society hold several stories, sometimes giving the railroad man a different name.
While trying to sort out the mystery of Fred Underwood the trail led first to the WPA Historical Data Project at the NDSHS. Histories done by Edith Erickson indicate the town was named for GEORGE UNDERWOOD, a conductor on the Washburn Railroad. The story goes that Underwood did General W. D. Washburn, one of the railroad owners and wealthy entrepreneur a favor.
Another story, this one from a book entitled "Towns in North Dakota and their Historical Origin" attributes the town's name to another FRED J. UNDERWOOD, a wealthy cattleman from Enderlin, ND.
A third story comes from Frank Vyzralek, head of archives at the North Dakota State Historical Society. His information comes from research done on the history of railroads in this state. Vyzralek says that the town is name for Fred J. Underwood. But he wasn't a cattle baron of central ND, nor was he a conductor who did General Washburn a favor. Fred Underwood, at the time the town began, was general manager of the Washburn-Bismarck-Great Falls Railroad.
Whether Washburn named the town for his general manager as a tribute, or the general manger lent the plat his name as a legacy, remains speculation. But according to Vyzralek, Underwood was not a conductor.
About the cattle baron in Enderlin, the historian says the names are a coincidence. They were two different men who happened to live during the same time period.
Underwood Was Quite A City in 1922:
The Soo Line railroad was the most popular mode of transportation as fares from Underwood to various cities on the Soo were carried.
Population 550, McLean county, a thriving and industrious village on the Soo Line Railway; on state highway Metigoshe-Black Hills trail, and 16 miles northeast of Washburn, the county seat. Has six churches of different denominations, three well organized banks, flour and feed mill, three cream stations, three grain elevators, two lumber yards, and a live weekly newspaper is published. Otherwise the city has a splendid representative list of all other business houses where the wants of a large and prosperous community are amply well supplied.
The city has all the latest in modern improvements, having broad streets, cement walks, city hall, well equipped fire department, motion picture and opera house, and a 24-hour light and power service which is supplied by the Central Power company of Washburn.
Underwood is situated in one of the finest agricultural and dairy regions of the state, the soil being well adapted to dairying and livestock raising which are the chief industries, while diversified farming is expensively practiced. A great deal of thorobred livestock is also raised. Lignite coal is found in the vicinity in abundance.
Land and improved farm land is worth $25 to $50 per acre and is an investment worth the most careful consideration of the future settler who is looking for a desirable and prosperous location. The room is here for thousands of people. For those who are just starting out in life and desire to change their location; some with limited means and a laudable ambition to possess a home and others with capital who desire to be in on the "ground floor" and cure property which must increase greatly in value, will find this an ideal spot for investment.
Other features are excellent train service, direct market facilities for all its products with the Twin Cities and Chicago (the world's market). The businessmen are wide awake and energetic and of wide business acumen who are ready at all times to offer assistance and can be depended upon for their cooperation.
In educational advantages this town is on par with any town of several times its size, having an accredited state high school where all children are given the benefit of a full high school course, combining domestic science and manual training.
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Last revised: May 04, 2013
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