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Fergus Falls is a city in and the county seat of Otter Tail County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 13,138 at the 2010 census.
The falls from which the city gets part of its name were discovered by Joe Whitford (a Scottish trapper) in 1856 and promptly named in honor of his employer, James Fergus. It is not known whether Fergus ever visited the city, but Whitford did not live to see the city develop, as he was killed during the 1862 Dakota war in western Minnesota. In 1867, George B. Wright was at the land office at St. Cloud and found Whitford's lapsed claim, purchased the land, and built what is now the Central Dam in downtown Fergus Falls around 1871. After Wright died in 1882, his son Vernon moved from Boston to Minnesota and took over his father's interests in the town. Vernon Wright was also one of the two people who established the Otter Tail Power Company in 1907. The city was incorporated in the late 1870s and is situated along the dividing line between the former great deciduous forest of the Northwest Territories to the east and the great plains to the west, in a region of gentle hills, where the recent geological history is dominated by the recession of the glaciers from the last great Ice Age, with numerous lakes and small rivers.
Two major tornadoes hit Fergus Falls during the early 20th century, the second, the 1919 Fergus Falls tornado, being the greater. The only church edifice left standing after the great cyclone was the predominantly black Baptist church.
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