The Crossing
The Crossing

Brainerd came into being because of the Northern Pacific Railroad, when they decided to throw its bridge span across the "Great Father of Waters" at this particular spot of its rushing course to the Gulf of Mexico. The eventual crossing at a place about eight miles north of Crow Wing Village, called The "Crossing".

The Mississippi River runs diagonally through the Brainerd Lakes Area after beginning it's journey at Itasca State Park, just 90 miles north of the lakes area. The lakes area is a level glacial plain, 1,120 feet above sea level. There was once a dense pine forest here that served the Chippewa Indians as their hunting grounds and blueberry fields.

The area was first seen by white men on Christmas Day of 1805 when Lieutenant Zebulon Montgomery Pike, U.S. Army, camped here for a day of rest and relaxation. The settlement in the lakes area was initially built upon the logging industry and the Northern Pacific Railroad.

According to local legend, Paul Bunyan Paul Bunyan, the famed giant lumberjack, was born in Brainerd. The Paul Bunyan Amusement Center, the Paul Bunyan 100-mile recreational trail and numerous other namesakes are found in the area. Since the late 1800s, the lakes area has served as a vacation destination. The natural attributes which continue to bring thousands of tourists to the lakes area, now attract seasonal and year-around residents to enjoy the high quality of life in our region.

Here we should look at a little of the history of   Minnesota

To begin our history of Brainerd, we must first look at Crow Wing Village.

Here is a little history of   The Northern Pacific Railroad

photo: NP Office
Northern Pacific Railroad shops and office about 1870.

By the end of January 1871, about 1,600 men labored to lay track just 28 miles east of Brainerd. The construction train arrived in Brainerd on March 11, 1871. And the city began.

In early 1873, a young Brainerd was a bustling frontier center with a business district centered on Front Street, lots of choices for lodging, more for those who wanted a drink and even a few houses dedicated to the soul.

The fledgling city -- created amid so many towering Norway and Jackpine that Brainerd was known as the "City of Pines" -- had 21 stores, 18 hotels, boarding houses and lodging houses, 15 saloons and five churches.

Logging Camp

Boarding House

Fire Department

Members of the Fire Department were paid $1.

Brainerd became the Northern Pacific headquarters and housed repair shops for railroad cars. Hundreds were employed. The railroad constructed the Headquarters Hotel,
1890 Depot 1890 Depot
which was built just east of the depot and the Northern Pacific hospital, which was on the west bank of the Mississippi River north of the river bridge.

Additional cities would grow, but Brainerd -- the town the Northern Pacific Railroad built -- would serve as a hub for future development. The railroad would bring the tourists and lakes resorts would grow, cities would develop. The discovery of iron ore on the Cuyuna Range would create entire new communities, some would later die out while others found new ways to thrive to this day.


Other Towns and Places

[Baxter] [Sylvan Township] [Pillager] [Gull River] [Madden's] [Breezy Point]

History of

[Minnesota] [Crow Wing County] [Crow Wing Vilage]
[NP Railroad] [Joe's Railroad]
[Railroad Posters] [ [NP Equipment]

Last Updated 23 July 2007