On September 13, 1872, the iron rails for the Northern Pacific Railway were laid across the James River. The first cars made their crossing the same day, as the rails continued westward.
The Northern Pacific Railway (NPR) itself was the reason a town was born at the site of present-day Jamestown. In 1871, General T.L. Rosser, NPR Chief Engineer of Construction, selected the site for the James River crossing and named the townsite for its location on the river. Rosser, a Virginian, also saw the name as fitting to pay homage to the town of that same name in his home state.
In fall 1871, the first detachment of soldiers was sent to the townsite, accompanying the engineering corps who was surveying the line of the proposed railway.
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