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Pembina State Museum - History

Oxcart train, Pembina to St. Paul

Introduction to Pembina, North Dakota

Situated at the extreme northeastern corner of North Dakota, Pembina occupies a unique place in the state’s heritage.  The region is noted for a number of “firsts” in North Dakota’s recorded history, including the first European settlement, first organized church, first school, first post office, first border/customs house, and first homestead within present state borders.

Throughout much of its history, the Pembina region has been remote and sparsely inhabited.  Native people occupied the area on a seasonal basis, utilizing resources such as the high bush cranberry for which Pembina is reputed to have been named.

As transportation methods developed, Pembina became more accessible and more populated and well-traveled.

Pembina is located at the confluence of the Pembina and Red rivers.  The Red River of the North originates south of Pembina, near the South Dakota border, and flows north into Canada.  The river serves as a natural boundary between North Dakota and Minnesota.

Pembina’s recorded history is closely tied with Canada.  Prehistorically, Pembina’s earliest residents were nomadic people who traveled in and out of the region from all directions.  Early explorers and traders came up the Red River from Canada in the late 1700s, and established fur trade posts.  Many of Pembina’s earliest permanent settlers came from Canada or were involved with Canadian-American trade operations.

After the Treaty of Ghent established the 49th parallel as the boundary between Canada and the United States, Pembina became a gateway of commerce between the two countries in the 1800s.

Today Pembina continues to serve as a port of entry between Canada and North Dakota.

May 16- Sept. 15, 9 am - 6 pm, Mon.-Sat., 1 pm - 6 pm., Sun.
Sept. 16 - May 15, 9 am - 5 pm, Mon. - Sat., 1 pm - 5 pm, Sun.
The Museum Store closes one half-hour before the museum closes.
Closed New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

Contact Us:
805 Highway 59
PO Box 456
Pembina, ND 58271
Phone: 701-825-6840
Fax: 701-825-6383