Main Births etc
Moorhead, Minnesota
—  City  —
Moorhead City Hall
Nickname(s): Your Hometown
Location of the city of Moorhead
within Clay County
in the state of Minnesota
Coordinates: 46°52′26″N 96°46′02″W / 46.87389, -96.76722Coordinates: 46°52′26″N 96°46′02″W / 46.87389, -96.76722
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Clay
Founded 1871
 • Mayor Del Rae Williams
 • City 19.80 sq mi (51.28 km2)
 • Land 19.80 sq mi (51.28 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 898 ft (274 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • City 38,065
 • Estimate (2013[3]) 39,398
 • Density 1,922.5/sq mi (742.3/km2)
 • Urban 176,676 (US: 194th)
 • Metro 223,490 (US: 197th)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 56560 -- 56563
Area code(s) 218
FIPS code 27-43864
GNIS feature ID 0648070[4]
Website Official website

Moorhead is a city in Clay County, Minnesota, United States, and the largest city in northwest Minnesota. The population was 38,065 at the 2010 census.[5] It is the county seat of Clay County.[6]

Moorhead was platted in 1871 and a permanent name was assigned to the town on October 6, 1871. Moorhead is bordered on the west by the Red River of the North and the city of Fargo, North Dakota. On the east, Moorhead is bordered by Dilworth, Minnesota. Together along with West Fargo, North Dakota, the communities comprise the core of the Fargo–Moorhead metropolitan area, which has a 2010 population of around 208,777 residents.


Moorhead is located next to the Red River in the Red River Valley. The land around the Fargo–Moorhead area is some of the flattest and richest (for agricultural uses) in the world. This is because it lies on the lake bed of glacial Lake Agassiz, which drained between 9,900 and 11,000 years ago.[7]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.80 square miles (51.28 km2), all of it land.[1]

Interstate 94 and U.S. Highways 10 and 75 are three of the main routes in the city. Other nearby routes in the Fargo–Moorhead area include Interstate 29 and Minnesota State Highway 336.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1880 1,500
1890 2,088 39.2%
1900 3,730 78.6%
1910 4,540 21.7%
1920 5,720 26.0%
1930 7,651 33.8%
1940 9,491 24.0%
1950 14,870 56.7%
1960 22,934 54.2%
1970 29,687 29.4%
1980 29,998 1.0%
1990 32,295 7.7%
2000 32,177 −0.4%
2010 38,065 18.3%
Est. 2013 39,398 22.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]
2013 Estimate[9]

According to the 2010-2012 American Community Survey, the racial composition was as follows:

According to the 2006-2008 American Community Survey, the top ten European ancestries were the following:

2010 census[]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 38,065 people, 14,304 households, and 8,372 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,922.5 inhabitants per square mile (742.3 /km2). There were 15,274 housing units at an average density of 771.4 per square mile (297.8 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.7% White, 2.0% African American, 1.5% Native American, 2.0% Asian, 1.1% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.1% of the population.

There were 14,304 households of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.5% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 41.5% were non-families. 29.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.97.

The median age in the city was 28.3 years. 20.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 23.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.4% were from 25 to 44; 20.5% were from 45 to 64; and 11.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.4% male and 51.6% female.

2000 census[]

As of the census of 2000, there were 32,177 people, 11,660 households, and 7,030 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,394.3 people per square mile (924.4/km²). There were 12,180 housing units at an average density of 906.3 per square mile (349.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.08% White, 0.77% African American, 1.94% Native American, 1.27% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 2.10% from other races, and 1.79% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.47% of the population.

There were 11,660 households out of which 31.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.3% were married couples living together, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.7% were non-families. 29.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.7% under the age of 18, 23.1% from 18 to 24, 24.2% from 25 to 44, 17.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 88.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,781, and the median income for a family was $49,118. Males had a median income of $33,137 versus $23,717 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,150. About 8.2% of families and 16.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.9% of those under age 18 and 6.4% of those age 65 or over.


Agriculture remains prominent in the area, but Moorhead is also home to notable corporate, manufacturing and distribution industries, including American Crystal Sugar (corporate headquarters and sugar beet processing), Busch Agricultural Resources (malt manufacturing) and Pactiv (container manufacturing). The unemployment rate is consistently below the national average and property values are stable.

Principal employers[]

# Employer # of employees[10]
1 Independent School District 152 826
2 Minnesota State University Moorhead 825
3 Concordia College 609
4 County of Clay 470
5 Eventide Lutheran Home 467
6 Advance Security 450
7 Creative Care for Reaching Independence (CCRI) 409
8 American Crystal Sugar Company 368
9 Minnesota State Community and Technical College 280
10 City of Moorhead 249

Arts and culture[]

The Rourke Art Gallery and the Rourke Art Museum are native Moorhead cultural institutions hosting the annual Midwestern Invitational Exhibition. Executive Director James O'Rourke displays an important art collection from local, regional and national artists. The Rourke Gallery operates from the historic 1875 Martinson House and the Rourke Museum is housed in the historic Moorhead Post Office building.

The city is also home to the Blue Stem Center for the Arts and Trollwood Performing Arts School, a renowned Summer arts and theater program.

Hjemkomst Center[]

Replica of Norwegian stave church at the Hjemkomst Center

The Hjemkomst Center is located in the city. It is a museum containing a re-creation of a Viking ship of the same name. The Hjemkomst vessel was built in nearby Hawley by Moorhead resident Robert Asp, and was sailed to Norway by his children after Asp's early death. The ship is now permanently housed in the center.

The Clay County Museum and Archives, operated by the Clay County Historical Society, interprets the history of Clay County in a free museum in the lower level of the Hjemkomst Center. The Society has more than 30,000 artifacts in their collection, one of the largest and most important historic collections in Minnesota outside of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

Located on the grounds of the Hjemkomst Center is a Stave Church. The traditional Norwegian-style church serves as a symbol of the Norwegian heritage in the Red River Valley. The church is a full-scale replica of the Hopperstad stave church in Vik, Norway.

An additional historical landmark is the Comstock House, built in 1882 and open for tours.


The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks is an independent professional baseball team that plays at Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo. They are part of the American Association.

Being a cold weather city, hockey has emerged as a favorite sport of Moorhead. The community has provided significant support to hockey programs such as Moorhead Youth Hockey. Over the years, Moorhead Senior High has produced a number of talented hockey players, including:

  • Jason Blake (MHS '92) Most recently played for the Anaheim Ducks, formerly of the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders. He played at the 2006 Olympic games for the United States in Turin, Italy. He was named an NHL all-star during the 2006–07 season and was awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 2007-2008 for being the "player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey."
  • Ryan Kraft (MHS '94) Played for the San Jose Sharks. He also played for the EC Kassel Huskies in Germany, including contributing to their 2007–2008 Bundesliga championship. Prior to that, he played in the AHL, IHL, and ECHL. He also represented Team USA at the 2001 IIHF World Championship.
  • Matt Cullen (MHS '95) Currently playing for the Nashville Predators. He was a member of the 2005–2006 Carolina Hurricanes who won the NHL Stanley Cup (championship) in 2006. He also played at the 2006 Olympic games for the United States in Turin, Italy.
  • Mark Cullen (MHS '97) Currently a professional hockey player in Europe. Most recently played in the NHL for the Florida Panthers. Originally signed to the Minnesota Wild in 2002 after a collegiate career at Colorado College, he has played for several AHL teams throughout his career, as well as for the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers. He also represented Team USA at the 2006 IIHF World Championship.
  • Brian Lee (MHS '05) Currently playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Previously played for the University of North Dakota and the U.S. National Junior Team. Also played for the Ottawa Senators.
  • Chris VandeVelde (MHS '05) Currently playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. Previously played for the Oklahoma City Barons (AHL), the University of North Dakota (winners of the 2010 WCHA Final Five tournament), and the Lincoln Stars (USHL).

Olympic pairs figure skater Mark Ladwig also hails from Moorhead. With partner Amanda Evora, he is a two-time U.S. national silver medalist and competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics. With his current partner, Lindsay Davis, he is part of the 2012-2013 U.S. Figure Skating Reserve Team.[11]


Weld Hall on the campus of Minnesota State University Moorhead

Concordia College

The city has five major institutions of higher learning: Concordia College (private liberal arts college), Minnesota State University Moorhead (public university), Minnesota State Community and Technical College (two-year to four-year technical college), Globe University/Minnesota School of Business, (private college), and Rasmussen College (a two- to four-year college). The combined student enrollment of these colleges is approximately 14,000.

K-12 education is provided to over 5,000 students by the Moorhead School District: S.G. Reinertsen Elementary, Robert Asp Elementary, Ellen Hopkins Elementary, Horizon Middle School and Moorhead High School. All of these schools are new or remodeled thanks to a $64 million investment in 2004. The district is known for its high student achievement with students consistently performing above the national average on the ACT.[12] The district includes the cities of Moorhead, Georgetown, Kragnes, and Sabin.

The city includes the Red River Area Learning Center and the Probstfield Center for Education.

Park Christian School is a private Christian school in Moorhead providing a K–12 education as well as St. Joseph's, a Catholic elementary school.

The Moorhead Public Library (1906) at 102 6th Street South was paid for by Andrew Carnegie and designed by architect Milton Earl Beebe.[13]


  • The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, regional newspaper printed in Fargo
  • High Plains Reader, news weekly
  • Minnesota Public Radio, Concordia College hosts an MPR bureau

Notable people[]

  • Rene Clausen – (b. 1953) American composer and conductor of The Concordia Choir
  • Becky Gulsvig – (b. 1982) actress[14]
  • Mark Ladwig – (b. 1980) figure skater[15]
  • Thomas McGrath – (1916–1990) poet, screenwriter, Rhodes scholar, English professor
  • Adolph Murie – (1899–1974) biologist, author, ecologist
  • Olaus Murie – (1889–1963) biologist, author, ecologist. Half-brother of Adolph, and member of Murie family.
  • Wally O'NeillNFL player
  • Leslie Stefanson – actress[16]
  • Sister Annella Zervas, O.S.B., (1900–1926) nun of Saint Benedict's Monastery and the closest that Minnesota possesses to a Canonized Saint. Her current title is Servant of God.

In popular culture[]

Moorhead is briefly referenced in the 1998 film The Big Lebowski as the hometown of one of the main characters, Bunny Lebowski. The high school photo of Bunny shown in the movie even has her wearing the correct orange, black, and white school colors of The Moorhead Spuds. Moorhead is also mentioned in the 1978 film The Buddy Holly Story as the next stop in the ill-fated Winter Dance Party tour. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash en route to their scheduled performance at the Moorhead Armory Building from Clear Lake, Iowa on February 3, 1959.

Moorhead's pioneer Prairie Home Cemetery on 8th Street was the inspiration for the name of Garrison Keillor's national radio program, A Prairie Home Companion.[17] Although Keillor thought the cemetery was founded by Norwegian Lutherans, in fact it was organized in 1875 by the Rev. Oscar Elmer, a Yankee Presbyterian minister who was the first clergyperson in the Moorhead/Fargo area.[18]


  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  3. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-06-09. 
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File". American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved September 11, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013". Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report - 2013". City of Moorhead, Minnesota. 2013. 
  11. ^ Skaters. Retrieved on 2013-08-25.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Moorhead Public Library
  14. ^ broadway actress. (2012-12-31). Retrieved on 2013-08-25.
  15. ^ Skaters. (2006-08-04). Retrieved on 2013-08-25.
  16. ^ [2]
  17. ^ Keillor, Garrison, quoted in Peter A. Scholl, Garrison Keillor (New York: Twayne, 1993).
  18. ^ Elmer, Oscar. Journal. Unpublished manuscript.

External links[]

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