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Moorhead, Minnesota facts for kids

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Moorhead City Hall
Moorhead City Hall
Your Hometown
Location within Clay County
Location within Clay County
Moorhead, Minnesota is located in Minnesota
Moorhead, Minnesota
Moorhead, Minnesota
Location in Minnesota
Moorhead, Minnesota is located in the United States
Moorhead, Minnesota
Moorhead, Minnesota
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Clay
Founded 1871
 • City 22.27 sq mi (57.69 km2)
 • Land 22.27 sq mi (57.67 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2)
898 ft (274 m)
 • City 44,505
 • Density 1,960.39/sq mi (756.89/km2)
 • Urban
176,676 (US: 194th)
 • Metro
249,843 (US: 192nd)
Time zone UTC−6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code 218
FIPS code 27-43864
GNIS feature ID 0648070

Moorhead is a city in and county seat of Clay County, Minnesota, United States, on the banks of the Red River of the North. Located in the Red River Valley, an extremely fertile and active agricultural region, Moorhead is also home to several corporations and manufacturing industries. Across the river from Fargo, North Dakota, Moorhead helps form the core of the Fargo–Moorhead ND-MN Metropolitan Area. The population was 44,505 according to the 2020 census.

Platted in 1871, the city was named for William Galloway Moorhead, an official of the Northern Pacific Railway. The city is also home to Concordia College.


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.

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.

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 population
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%
2020 44,505 16.9%
U.S. Decennial Census
2020 Census
Moorhead, Minnesota (1916)
Front Street, 1916

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 of 2010, there were 38,065 people, 14,304 households, and 8,372 families living 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.

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 Bluestem Center for the Arts a 3,000 seat outdoor amphitheater and Trollwood Performing Arts School, a renowned Summer arts and theater program. Bluestem opened in 2009 with a partnership between the Fargo School District, City of Moorhead, and an arts grant from the Minnesota. Jade Presents also presents a summer concert series which has drawn many famous bands including: O.A.R., Goo Goo Dolls, The Beach Boys, and Weezer.

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 Victorian Comstock House, a blend of Queen Anne and Eastlake styles built in 1883. Solomon Comstock was a lawyer and U.S. House Representative.

In popular culture

Moorhead is briefly referenced in the 1998 Coen brothers' film The Big Lebowski as the hometown of one of the main characters, Bunny Lebowski, played by Tara Reid. 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. 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 ordained Christian minister in the Moorhead/Fargo area.


Moorhead is home to the first Dairy Queen to sell Dilly Bars. The original metal mold used to create the Dilly Bar with soft serve ice cream was developed by a Moorhead family, was patented and sold to local operators of other Dairy Queen franchise locations. Many restaurants still make Dilly Bars by this same method today in addition to bulk boxes of Dilly Bars using a different process by the parent corporation.

The Moorhead Dairy Queen is also one of only a few Dairy Queens operating on a contract signed in 1949, which allows it to feature products not approved by corporate Headquarters. An example includes a chipper sandwich, vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies and dipped in chocolate.


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

According to the City's 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the largest employers in the city are:

# Employer # of employees
1 Independent School District 152 1,035
2 Minnesota State University Moorhead 707
3 Concordia College 700
4 Clay County 530
5 City of Moorhead 505
6 Creative Care for Reaching Independence (CCRI) 500
7 Eventide Lutheran Home 461
8 American Crystal Sugar Company 400
9 Hornbacher's (2 locations) 296
10 Minnesota State Community and Technical College 229


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 Pittsburgh Penguins. 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) Most recently played 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 was a two-time U.S. national silver medalist and competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics. With Lindsay Davis, he was part of the 2012–2013 U.S. Figure Skating Reserve Team.


Weld Hall on the campus of Minnesota State University Moorhead
Old Main on the campus of Concordia College

The city has four institutions of higher learning: Concordia College (private Christian liberal arts college), Minnesota State University Moorhead (public university), Minnesota State Community and Technical College (two-year to four-year technical 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, Dorothy Dodds Elementary, Horizon Middle School and Moorhead High School. The district is known for its high student achievement with students consistently performing above the national average on the ACT. 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.

Dorothy Dodds Elementary, a new K-4 elementary school, is the newest school in the Moorhead School District, and was opened in 2017.

Notable people

  • Jason Blake – NHL player
  • Will Borgen – NHL defenceman for the Seattle Kraken
  • Joel D. Carlson - Minnesota state legislator and businessman
  • Rene Clausen – (b. 1953) American composer and conductor of The Concordia Choir
  • Ada Comstock – (1876–1973) Master's degree, Columbia University 1899, first full-time president of Radcliffe College.
  • Matt Cullen – NHL player
  • William B. Dosland - (1927-1993), Minnesota state senator and lawyer
  • Wallace B. Douglas - (1852–1930), Minnesota jurist, lawyer, and politician
  • Becky Gulsvig – (b. 1982) actress
  • Loren D. Hagen – (1946–1971) US Army Special Forces Green Beret and Medal of Honor recipient
  • Kenneth J. Kludt - Minnesota state legislator and lawyer
  • Ryan Kraft – NHL player
  • Mark Ladwig – (b. 1980) figure skater
  • Brian Lee – NHL player
  • Warren G. Magnuson – (1905–1989) former U.S. Senator of Washington
  • 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'Neill – NFL player
  • Collin Peterson, Democratic U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 7th congressional district (attended college in Moorhead)
  • Leslie Stefanson – actress
  • Karl Truesdell, U.S. Army major general
  • Merlyn Orville Valan (1926-2010) - Minnesota state legislator and farmer
  • Chris VandeVelde – NHL player
  • Diane Wray Williams - Minnesota state legislator, businesswoman, and teacher
  • Roy Williams – NFL player
  • 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.

Images for kids

See also

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