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Area History

Chisago County
Historical Society
P.O. Box 146
Lindstrom, MN 55045

Telephone: 651-257-5310
Email address:
chisagohistory@frontiernet.net
__________________________
Chisago County and Saint Croix River Valley history:
Chisago County was established in the fall of 1851 by an act of the territorial legislature of Minnesota. The name is derived from the Native American phrase for the "large and lovely" lakes in the area. It would be almost seven years before Minnesota itself gained statehood, on May 11th, 1858.

Chisago County is located about 20 miles north of the Twin Cities metropolitan area and extends another 30 miles north, along the wild and scenic St. Croix River, which forms its eastern border. Within the 450 square miles (1,170 hectares), recreational opportunities abound!

The St. Croix River Valley was first inhabited by nomadic people some 6,000 years ago. For thousands of years the valley was home to both Dakota
[Sioux] and Ojibwa [Chippewa] Indians. These tribes were largely gone by the time steamboats from the south began to arrive in 1838. Soldiers, yankee businessmen, and land speculators came and established their places. The white pine logging industry and sawmills flourished along the river while many crops were grown on the freshly cleared farmland.

Construction of the first Government Road from Fort Snelling to Lake Superior began in 1852. The road (shown in pink on the map to the right) passed through the county, following the bluff line of the St. Croix River. It carried new settlers into the territory and later saw scheduled stagecoach and mail service. Portions of the route, also known as the Point Douglas Superior Military Road, are now designated as a Minnesota Scenic Byway.

Tracks for the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad soon swept along the west side of the county. A network of roadways began to develop, criss-crossing the area, bringing both people and goods to the new depots. A spur line was added that connected the Wyoming depot to Taylors Falls with stops at Chisago City, Lindstrom, Center City, and Shafer. This provided easy access to resorts and recreation with daily train schedules for residents of the Twin Cities.

Swedish immigrants were the predominant group who established the churches and communities of the mid to late 1800's. Their hardships and joys are captured in a series of epic novels written by Vilhelm Moberg, a Swedish author who spent the summer of 1948 in the Chisago Lakes area.

Minnesota Highway 8, which connects Forest Lake to Taylors Falls, is today known as the Moberg Commemorative Trail (shown in yellow on the map). Towns along the route have Swedish sister cities that can be visited by following the links in the listing to the right.

Early settlement in the area was slow but steady for the first 40 years, followed by 60 years of minor change. The table below is abstracted from US Federal Census Data and shows Chisago County population had grown to 10,000 people by 1890. There has beenincreased growth during the past 50 years. Click on the table to see the graph view.

During the past two decades Chisago County has been one of the faster growing counties in Minnesota. Easy access from Minneapolis and St. Paul, the natural scenic beauty of the St. Croix river and its local lakes make the county a great place to visit and live.
Designated Sister Cities
Minnesota Town
Chisago City
Lindstrom
Center City
Shafer
Sweden Town
Algutsboda
Tingsryd
Hassela
Nöbbele
The Minnesota state map above shows the east-central location of Chisago County.
The Chisago County map showing the
Minnesota Scenic Byway [red] and the
Moberg Commemorative Trail [yellow].
Year:

Population:

% Change:
1860

1,673

0.0%
1870

4,358

160%
1880

7,982

83.2%
1890

10,359

29.8%
1900

13,248

27.9%
1910

13,527

2.2%
1920

14,445

6.7%
1930

14,189

-8.8%
1940

13,124

-0.5%
1950

12,189

-7.1%
1960

13,419

10.1%
1970

17,340

29.2%
1980

25,517

47.2%
1990

30,521

19.6%
2000

41,101

34.7%
2010

53,887

31.1%