History of Lake County

Lake County has a rich history and the best place to start should be prior to the Europeans coming to Minnesota. Lake County was largely inhabited by Native American groups. The to primary groups of people that lived here were the Dakota and Ojibwe. These groups of people relied largely upon hunting, fishing, and gathering in order to get enough food to survive. In the late 1600s, European explorers made their way to Lake County. Many of these explorers were fur traders and trappers.

Once Wisconsin had been granted statehood, the federal government made the Minnesota Territory in March 1849. The Minnesota Territory was originally divided into 9 counties in, with Lake County originally being called Superior County. In 1855, Lake County changed its name from Superior County to St. Louis County. After only a year the name of the county was changed again to Lake County in 1856. The name of St. Louis County was given to the previously known county of Newton where the St. Louis River runs into Lake Superior. After many name changes, Lake County had finally found its name that is known today.

The second half of of the 1800s was a time of change for Lake County. The discovery of iron ore in the Vermillion Range. This discovery resulted in the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad to extend up to the North Shore. Expansion of the railroad resulted in the incorporation of Two Harbors in 1888. That same year a vote was taken to make Two Harbors the county seat of Lake County.

While iron ore has been whats shaped a large part of the history of Two Harbors, there are other industries that have helped in forming the North Shore. Towards the end of the 1800s fishing became a hot industry which resulted in the immigration of Swedish and Norwegian immigrants to Lake County.

During the 1900s, Lake County had focused on the mining industry building infrastructure for transporting minerals. One of the first steel ore docks was built in 1907 in Two Harbors. One of the nations first Health Maintenance Organizations was created to help railroad employees with medical assistance.

History is always being written and it is exciting to see what will be next for Lake County.

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