Thief River Falls History
Thief River Falls first developed as a lumber milling town. It also became a major agricultural service area because of the rich soil left by ancient, glacial Lake Agassiz. The unusual name, “Thief River,” was given to the river by the Ojibwe and Dakota people. “Falls” was added to the name of the new city in 1896 because a series of rapids in the river had been converted to a waterfall by the construction of the dam. The Great Northern and the Soo Line Railroads brought prosperity when Thief River Falls became a center for shipping wheat. Today, the city continues its entrepreneurial spirit, preserving and respecting the past, yet growing and moving toward the future, especially in the manufacturing and distribution industries.
The seven mile scenic River Walk is an example of connecting history with nature. Fifteen pictographs are found along the River Walk, showing what the view along the river was like many years ago. The River Walk travels through town along the Red Lake and Thief Rivers, passing by nine parks, three forest trails, the dam and historical sites such as the Soo Line Railroad Depot and the statue of Chief Meskokonaye (Red Robe).
We have a historic village and museum located right in Thief River Falls called the Peder Engelstad Pioneer Village. Officially opened in 1976, the museum and village provide a living history of Thief River Falls. Named after a local Norwegian immigrant, the village consists of 19 buildings with over 25,000 individual items on display. Buildings include seven late-1800s log houses, a church, two railroad building depots, a one-room schoolhouse, five original stores, a restored Victorian home, a large farm and auto machinery building, and a museum. The village is open to the public Memorial Day through Labor Day with guided tours available. There are also numerous special activities at the village including a threshing bee, Uff-Da Day and Old Fashioned Day.
Click here to learn more about the history of Thief River Falls: http://www.visittrf.com/abouttrf/