History Notes

Key Dates


  • December 25, 1805 - Zebulon Pike passed through searching for the Mississippi headwaters.
  • 1870 - John Gregory Smith named the township after his wife Anne Eliza Brainerd Smith and father-in-law Lawrence Brainerd.
  • January 11, 1873 - The first meeting of the city council.
  • March 6, 1873 - Brainerd was organized as a city.
  • January 11, 1876 - The Minnesota state legislature revoked Brainerd's charter for 6 years.
For more information see: Wikipedia: Brainerd, Minnesota

From the Old Police Website


  • The area was once a dense pine forest that served the Chippewa Indians as hunting grounds and blueberry fields.
  • The area that would become Brainerd was first seen by white men on Christmas Day, 1805, LT. Zebulon Pike, U.S. Army, camped in the area for a day of rest and relaxation while exploring the source of the Mississippi River.
  • On September 19, 1871, the plat was signed and on September 25, 1871, it was filed for record in Crow Wing County. The name on the plat was "Brainerd." The City was incorporated on November 19, 1881.
  • The plat showed a square, two blocks long on each side in the center of town. It was marked "Gregory Square."
  • At the time, the president of the railroad company was John Gregory Smith. His wife was Anne Eliza Brainerd Smith. Since Mr. Smith objected to the proposed town names of "Smithville" and "Smithton," his wife's maiden name was chosen for the town name and Mr. Smith's middle name was chosen for the town square.
  • The first settlers had wanted the name to be "Ocamacua," Indian for "The Crossing."
  • North/South streets were given numerical identification and East/West streets an alphabetical sequence of familiar tree names.
  • The historic water tower was built over 4 years, from 1919-1922. It was the first all concrete elevated tank used by a municipality in the United States. The tower held 300,000 gallons of water drawn from three wells. The tower served until 1958 when a new 1 million gallon tower was constructed. The old tower was drained in 1960. It was added to the State Inventory of Historic Sites in 1972.