History of Aberdeen

Our Story Begins....

Historic Photo of Pheasant by Train Depot Named for Aberdeen, Scotland, the hometown of Milwaukee Railroad President Alexander Mitchell, this new city incorporated in 1881 quickly became known as the Hub City of the Dakotas, and the Brown County seat.

By 1886, a city map was published that showed nine different rail lines converging in Aberdeen from all directions, much like the spokes of a wheel converging at its hub. The combination of multi-directional railways and fertile farmland caused Aberdeen to develop into a distribution hub for wholesale goods. The city grew rapidly and in 1890, 230 businesses called Aberdeen home. Today Aberdeen's economy has diversified and the number of businesses has grown to more than 1,500.

L. Frank Baum lived in Aberdeen from 1888 to 1891. Baum's description of Kansas in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is based on his experiences in drought-ridden South Dakota. While in Aberdeen he first owned Baum’s Bazaar, a variety store, and published the Saturday pioneer. Baum’s influence is visible today through Storybook Land and the Land of Oz, as well as our new slogan, "Write your story!"

More than 26,000 people proudly call Aberdeen home. Aberdeen is a hometown that hasn't lost its warm and welcoming appeal. Families enjoy the wonderful schools, parks and walking trails in this practically crime-free environment. Citizens appreciate their hometown for what it really is: a growing, progressive city offering Midwestern hospitality and opportunity!

NSU Beulah Williams Library Archives

A grant by the John S. and James L. Knight foundation was given to Northern State University's Beulah William Library. For decades, Aberdeen has served as the center of activity in Northeast South Dakota. It has been the hub of the regional railroad network, a jumping off point for homesteaders, and the core of regional education, fine arts and culture. This projects purpose is to highlight and preserve the rich history and contemporary stories of this area. This project would not be possible without the generous support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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