Impending statehood stirred speculative interest in the future of the area's northwestern reaches. That interest was reflected in the 1857 sessions of the legislature, where a remarkable number of acts benefiting the Red River area were passed.
Among the 49 towns incorporated during the extra session alone, seven were located in the valley. One of them, St. Vincent, was situated on the Red River just south of the international border. For it the legislature chartered a ferry and authorized the construction of a branch railroad1 as well as telegraph lines to terminate there. Although it was located on land that still belonged to the Ojibwe, a St. Paul firm sent Charles W. Iddings2 to St. Vincent in the summer of 1857 to survey the new town site along with that of Pembina on the opposite shore of the Red. By February 1858, the two towns had been platted with streets named for well-known fur traders and legislators.
- Minnesota's Boundary With Canada: Its Evolution Since 1783, by William E. Lass
|Sewall & Iddings 1860 Map|
1 - May 22, 1857, the Territory accepted the grant and conferred it upon the Minnesota and Pacific Railroad Company. Breckenridge, at the mouth of the Sioux Wood River, and St. Vincent, on the Red River of the North, were designated as the western termini of the main and branch lines respectively (Law of Minnesota, Minnesota Territorial Legislature extra session 1857, p.3) The Minnesota & Pacific Railroad Company was one of four such companies created to take advantage of the eventual federal land grant act. It eventually reorganized as the St. Paul & Pacific Railroad Company, which in turn became part of James J. Hill's Great Northern Railway Company.
2 - Charles W. Iddings was a surveyor living over the post office in St. Paul in 1856. After the Densmore expedition he was associated with Joseph S. Sewall of St. Paul, the engineer who built the Wabasha Street bridge. During this connection the two men published a map of Minnesota which is known as the Sewall and Iddings map of 1860.