The station record low for Fargo-Moorhead occurred on today's date in 1887. The temperature reached -48 degrees. This temperature was part of a long cold snap in a terribly cold winter and was part of a four-day string of extremely cold temperatures from Jan. 6-9 of -43 , -39 , -48 and -38 degrees. Daily high temperatures were in the -20s for three of those days.
The thermometers at the time were extremely accurate. However, the use of thermometer shelters with roofs to negate radiational cooling was not standard before 1890 and it is not known if the thermometer was inside a shelter in Moorhead in 1888. The daytime temperatures were extremely cold and would not have been affected by the lack of a roof, so this suggests the record is valid. Also of interest is the fact that temperatures from the first five days of 1887 are missing from the record. Perhaps it got to -50 degrees. This is something we cannot know.