This line was built in 1881 by the Northern Pacific, Fergus and Black Hills Railroad, north from a connection with their line through Fergus Falls (also abandoned) to Pelican Rapids. Following suit, a direct competitor, the Saint Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Railroad, began grading between the two towns as well. A legal battle ensued, with the SPM&M winning (in exchange for NPF&BF access elsewhere on SPM&M routes). Thus the line, originally built by the NPF&BH, was transferred to the SPM&M, who began their operations over the line in 1882.
The line was abandoned under Burlington Northern Railway ownership in 1981, 100 years after its original construction.