Pictures depicting the Grand Forks/East Grand Forks area in the 1880s are fairly rare. The period of the 1880s was right between the end of artist drawings and the advent of camera photography. During this time frame, newspapers employed artists to sketch engravings from camera photographs, and the pictures displayed on this page are examples of this technique. They are hand drawings from original photographs, which were then turned into engravings that the newspapers could use to create their daily editions. At the time, no method existed whereby actual photographs could be inserted directly into newspapers.
Stereographic photographs were also common in the early 1880s. Stereographic images were two pictures taken at nearly the same angle and mounted on hard cardboard. When viewed through a stereoscope, it gave the photograph a three dimensional look. By the middle 1880s, cabinet photographs were the norm. Cabinet photographs were photographs mounted on hard cardboard, usually about 5×7 inches in size.
There are few images of early Grand Forks or East Grand Forks available today. It is possible that due to the many natural disasters the area has experienced, a good portion of these photographs could have been damaged and thrown away. However, some must still exist in private collections.