DUNN CENTER, NORTH DAKOTA
Dunn Center's growth was primarily related to the Homestead Act of 1862. The odd numbered sections of land were given to the railroad companies. The even numbered sections became homestead land. The original settlers were farmers and ranchers. The first settlers arrived in Dunn Center in 1892 when the railroad was first extended from Bismarck along the south side of what was then the Missouri River Valley. Rails were laid in Dunn Center on October 6, 1914. Dunn Center was one of two communities that had a section house. Railroad employees and others moved to Dunn Center to live and work near the railroad. Over the course of the next 30 years population slowly increased until the Depression.
One key factor contributing to early development was the presence of coal near Dunn Center. The Hafer Coal Company acquired much of the land in the area in 1914 and rented it to individuals (ranchersand farmers). Later, much of this land was purchased by the renting parties. In 1948 Hafer Coal Company sold out all its holdings in Dunn County. This contributed to the population decline of the City during that time period.
Lake Sakakawea is located approximately 16 miles north of Dunn Center and acts as a barrier to the northern part of the State. However, Lake Sakakawea and the Badlands, located northwest of Dunn Center, are major tourism attractions for the region. The largest economic engine of the region is the energy industry. The energy industry and its spinoff or multiplier effect represent about 40% of the economy in Dunn County.