Jamestown is a city in Stutsman County, and serves as the capital of that municipality. Founded in 1872, the city is the ninth-largest in North Dakota with a population of 15,427 as of the 2010 census. Jamestown has a strong precision manufacturing base as well as food processing, agriculture, retail and wholesale businesses.
Jamestown had its beginnings in 1871 when Northern Pacific Railroad expansion crews found themselves at the James River, where they set up camp in anticipation of crossing the river while adding another section to the new northern transcontinental line. A short time later in 1872, Fort Seward was established by the United States Army on a bluff overlooking the confluence of the James River and Pipestem Creek; the outpost was home to three companies of the Twentieth Infantry Regiment. A small town was formed by settlers and railway workers around the fort, and General Thomas Rosser officially named it after Jamestown, Virginia in 1872.
In 1877 Fort Seward was decommissioned and abandoned, but the railroad remained, and the small town that had been erected around it slowly began to grow and take shape. A repair yard was established that tended to the maintenance needs of railway cars on the northern transcontinental line, and this industry remained one of Jamestown’s main economic drivers well into the 1960’s.
During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the economy of Jamestown began to change and evolve to accommodate new and different industries; today, the city has a strong precision manufacturing base as well as food processing, agriculture, retail and wholesale businesses. In addition, several companies of note possess headquarters in Jamestown, such as Midwestern Machine, Dura Tech Industries, and ACI or Agri-Cover, Inc.; other major employers of the city’s residents include Cavendish Farms and UTC Aerospace Systems, as well as several major service facilities for trucking and heavy equipment repair companies.
Major transportation options include the Jamestown Regional Airport, which provides scheduled flights to all four major North Dakotan metropolitan areas, as well as chartered flights out of state.
Jamestown is served by Jamestown Public Schools, which operates five elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and one alternative high school. Higher education options include the University of Jamestown, a private liberal arts college with an enrollment of approximately 1000 students. Founded in 1883, the college originally closed in 1890 after financial hardships; however, it re-opened and became successful in 1909 after an increase in population of the surrounding area necessitated local options for higher education.
Jamestown has a thriving water-sport and recreational fishing industry, thanks in-part to the Jamestown Reservoir, a series of three, interlocking, 12-mile-long artificial lakes formed by Jamestown Dam. Jamestown is also features to two popular 18-hole golf courses, in addition to the Jamestown Civic Center, a multi-purpose venue that can accommodate concerts, University of Jamestown basketball games, theater productions, and more. The town is also home to the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame, a well-known destination for sports fans from across the country. The local area also has numerous public and sporting parks, is home to The Jamestown Arts Center, as well as the “World’s Largest Buffalo,” a 26-foot tall sculpture of an American bison.