The Duluth, Crookston and Northern Railroad was organized with the intent of connecting Duluth to the upper reaches of Minnesota, along the Canadian border. Construction began in 1887 at Manitoba Junction (near Dale) at a connection with the Duluth and Winnipeg Railroad and headed north to Fertile. The line was extended into Crookston to the northwest in 1889, with a final extension to Carthage (just east of Grand Forks) to the northwest in 1890. The line eventually came under the control the Northern Pacific Railroad.
Today, most of the line is abandoned. Crookston to Carthage was abandoned in 1973, Fertile to Ulen in 1983, and the last portion from Fertile to Crookston in 1996. The very southern segment of the line between Manitoba Junction and Ulen is still operated by BNSF Railway.