He first traveled to the confluence of the Red River of the North and the Red Lake River (the site of present-day Grand Forks) in 1870 using flatboats to carry cargo downstream on the Red River of the North. During the fall of 1870, Griggs and his crew embarked on another such trip through the confluence area, but were stranded when their boat froze in the icy waters of the Red River one evening. The crew built a small cabin and lived there during the winter of 1870-1871. They soon decided that the area would be a good spot for a new town. Others soon joined Griggs at the site and the community of Grand Forks was formed. Griggs officially platted the town site of Grand Forks in 1875.
He also became the fifth mayor of Grand Forks, serving from 1888 to 1889. Griggs was also the city’s third postmaster, served on the Grand Forks City Council, as a Grand Forks County Commissioner, and on the North Dakota state constitutional convention. In addition, he founded the Second National Bank, established a gas works, built the Grand Forks Roller Mill, constructed the first brick commercial building in Grand Forks, and opened a hotel (the Grigg House). A statue of Griggs sits on the grounds of the Grand Forks County Courthouse.
- "Grand Forks History". City of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Archived from the original on 6 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-06.
- "Historic Grand Forks". Grand Forks County Historical Society. Archived from the original on 2007-02-19. Retrieved 2007-06-06.
- "Dimensions - March 2005". University of North Dakota. Archived from the original on 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2007-06-06.
- Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 145.
- Website detailing the history of early Grand Forks, North Dakota - City of Grand Forks
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