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Although located in central-eastern Clay County, bordered on the west by the Red River of the North and Fargo, North Dakota, Moorhead is the county seat of Clay County, and the largest city in northwestern Minnesota. Bordered on the east by Dilworth, other nearby communities are West Fargo, Prairie Rose, Frontier and Reile's Acres in North Dakota, and the Minnesota communities of Glyndon and Oakport. Moorhead was founded in 1871, and named for William Garroway Moorhead, a director of the Northern Pacific Railroad, which provided the stimulus for economic and population growth in the area. Early settlers came largely to take advantage of the Homestead Act, which gave them acreage in exchange for farming and making improvements upon their land. The land around the Fargo-Moorhead area is flat and fertile, as it rests on the lake bed of glacial Lake Agassiz. Industries rose not only because of the railroad, but also because the Red River of the North served as a transfer point for passengers and goods between the Twin Cities and Winnipeg, Manitoba. Before the railroad, goods were hauled by oxcart from St. Cloud to Moorehead, where they were loaded onto riverboats. Moorhead was platted in 1871, and incorporated in 1881, soon earning a reputation as "Sin City," as it hosted more than a hundred bars, while neighboring Fargo, North Dakota prohibited the sale of alcohol. Today, Moorhead continues to be a transcontinental crossing, as Interstates 94 and 29 intersect just west of the city, although education and service industries are beginning to play a prominent role in the city's economy. Moorhead's Prairie Home Cemetery was the inspiration for the name of Garrison Keillor's national radio program, A Prairie Home Companion.


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