Fargos near and far: Ours is most well-known, but we're not alone
When someone says "Fargo," you typically don't ask, "Which one?" "Fargo" means "Fargo, North Dakota." Or does it? Turns out we don't have a monopoly on the city name. Research shows there are more than a dozen Fargos from Oklahoma to Africa. And,...
When someone says "Fargo," you typically don't ask, "Which one?"
"Fargo" means "Fargo, North Dakota."
Or does it?
Turns out we don't have a monopoly on the city name. Research shows there are more than a dozen Fargos from Oklahoma to Africa. And, like our city, many of these other Fargos were tied to railroads. Here's a breakdown of our fellow Fargos:
Population: 93,531 (2008 estimate)
Distance from Fargo, N.D.: N/A
Average January high: 16.
Average January low: minus 2.
Fargo's origins are inexorably linked to the railroad. The name "Fargo" comes from William G. Fargo, a member of the Northern Pacific Railroad board of directors. Moorhead was also named for an NP board member, William Moorhead.
Population: 101 (2008 estimate)
Distance from Fargo, N.D.: 1,094 miles
Average January high: 46 (data for nearby town of Brinkley)
Average January low: 29 (data for nearby town of Brinkley).
Situated about halfway between Little Rock and Memphis, Tenn., the small town that was home to the Fargo Agricultural School found its start in 1911 when Leroy Washington Mahon
(at left), born to slave parents, had 40 acres of his own farm surveyed and marked off in streets and lots, according to information from the Fargo Agricultural School Museum.
Population: 382 (2008 estimate)
Distance from Fargo, N.D.: 1,624 miles
Average January high: 63
Average January low: 38.
Fargo, Ga., is a timber town that serves as a gateway to the swampland of the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge.
"Pretty much in our neck of the woods, any hole of water has at least one alligator in it," said assistant school superintendent Danny Ellis, who grew up in Fargo.
Ellis said this town near the Florida border was named Fargo after a railroad that was to run from Jacksonville, Fla., to Valdosta, Ga. For a while, it was completed only as far as Fargo. The name was coined because "that was as far as the trains could go," Ellis said.
Distance from Fargo, N.D.: 769 miles
Average January high: 30 (data for nearby town of Oxford)
Average January low: 13 (data for nearby town of Oxford).
Mapquest.com locates a Fargo in Benton County, Ind., 25 miles from Lafayette. But, in the words of Janet Kult of the Benton County Indiana Historical Society, "There's nothing there." It's her understanding that this Fargo was a railroad stop where steam engines could load up with water and wood.
Population: About 25 or 30 homes in the area, one resident estimated
Distance from Fargo, N.D.: 937 miles
Average January high: 41 (data for nearby town of English)
Average January low: 21 (data for nearby town of English).
The other Indiana Fargo is in Orange County and about an hour from Louisville, Ky. It was once known as Pittsburg, a name said to be taken from a Pitman family that lived there, according to a 1884 county history book. That volume also says that, at that time, the place was "familiarly known among the citizens of the surrounding country as 'Short Peg.' "
Population: There are three houses and a township shed, according to a county official.
Distance from Fargo, N.D.: 685 miles
Average January high: 31 (data for nearby town of Timewell)
Average January low: 13 (data for nearby town of Timewell).
One reason Fargo, Ill., ended up where it did is that a survey of the area from around 1830 showed that a railroad was to run through that location, according to a volume on the history of Brown County, Ill. The line actually ended up running two miles northwest of Fargo.
Population: Less than 100
Distance from Fargo, N.D.: 980 miles
Average January high: 30 (data for nearby town of Port Huron)
Average January low: 15 (data for nearby town of Port Huron).
Located near the southern part of Lake Huron, Fargo, Mich., was a station on the Port Huron and Northwestern Railroad, according to a 1986 publication titled "Michigan Place Names." The name for the town came from "local sawmill and grist mill owners, A. Farr & Sons."
Population: There are very few, if any, residents, a local historian said.
Distance from Fargo, N.D.: 1,400 miles.
Average January high: 28 (data for nearby town of Great Bend)
Average January low: 9 (data for nearby town of Great Bend).
It's "just a crossroads," said Laura Prievo, historian of the town of Wilna, in which Fargo, N.Y., is located. But Fargo used to be the site of the Checkerboard Inn, which was actually painted like a checkerboard and was the site of "a good many" Wilna town meetings.
Population: "It's very, very little," the county clerk said.
Distance from Fargo, N.D.: 964 miles
Average January high: 33 (data for nearby town of Marengo)
Average January low: 16 (data for nearby town of Marengo).
There used to be a grocery store in Fargo, Ohio, which is about half an hour north of Columbus. And while that's not in operation now, the Wesleyan Church in town still exists. The Rev. John Brock said the road signs marking Fargo are 0.2 miles apart.
Population: 321 (2008 estimate)
Distance from Fargo, N.D.: 935 miles
Average January high: 47
Average January low: 19.
Fargo in Ellis County, Okla., is just east of the state's panhandle, 154 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. Lifelong resident Dorothy Steinert, 88, says the town "just about dried up and blew away" during the Dust Bowl days.
In eerie similarity to our own region, Ellis County was struck by an F-5 tornado in 1947, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society Web site. Six Ellis County residents were killed.
Distance from Fargo, N.D.: 1,042 miles
Average January high: 52 (data for nearby town of Chillicothe)
Average January low: 25 (data for nearby town of Chillicothe).
Fargo, Texas, is in a region of pastures and cropland near the Oklahoma border, 177 miles northwest of Fort Worth. Fargo "was established on a stage line ... about 1883," according to the Texas State Historical Association Web site. William G. Fargo, for whom our own town is named, is associated with stagecoach transportation along with his railroad connections.
Not only does the town share our moniker, but part of the Wilbarger County border is formed by a waterway known as the Red River.
Population: A county history book calls it a "ghost town."
Distance from Fargo, N.D.: 434 miles
Average January high: 25 (data for nearby town of Mount Sterling)
Average January low: 3 (data for nearby town of Mount Sterling).
Wisconsin's Fargo is about 100 miles west of Madison. True to its state's heritage, Fargo was home to a cheese factory that closed in 1971.
Fargos in Africa
There is something called "Fargo" less than 30 miles south of the city of Mongo in the Republic of Chad, Africa, according to Bing Maps. Mongo is the capital of the Guéra region and 6,757 miles from Fargo, N.D.
Bing Maps and Maplandia.com also locate a Fargo in the Grand Gedeh county of Liberia, Africa. But two area individuals from Liberia weren't familiar with the city, including a North Dakota State University student who hails from that region. One of them had heard of a place called Viaglor in that area, a name that sounds somewhat like "Fargo."
Moorheads around the world
Like Fargo, our Moorhead isn't alone in laying stake to its name. The map Web site Maplandia.com has listings for "Moorhead" in Sunflower County, Miss.; Erie County, Pa.; Monona County, Iowa; and Powder River County, Mont.
There are also listings for "Morehead" in Kansas and North Carolina. There's even one in Papua New Guinea, a nation east of Indonesia.
North Carolina has a Morehead City, and Pennsylvania has a Moorheadville.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734
Above: Fargo, Okla., looking south from the top of an elevator in 1982. Below: A schoolhouse in Fargo, Ill., a town about 12 miles from the Siloam Springs State Park.