Brainerd History

Brainerd History Week was June 14-21, 2015: Invitation | Schedule of Events

Historical information compiled from numerous sources including the City of Brainerd, Crow County Historical Society, Brainerd History Group, Minnesota Historical Society, Brainerd Public Library.

Brainerd History Group

Crow Wing County Historical Society

Minnesota Historical Society

Historic City Photos
Historic Photos

Historic City Maps
Historic Maps

Images of America Brainerd Images of America: Brainerd

Recently published book about Brainerd history

Historical Walk Downtown Brainerd Historical Walk

Guide Book, Podcast, Videos

Historical Newspapers Historical Newspapers

Historical Newspapers Halsted, A. J. 'Brainerd' booklet circa 1910, pdf (70Mb)

This wonderful never-before-seen piece was just discovered at the Brainerd History Week 2014 celebration, at the First Congregational Church fellowship that followed the non-denominational church service in Gregory Park, Sunday 6/22/2014. We don’t know if it had cover or what the occasion was for its printing. Many thanks to Nancy Gould of Brainerd for sharing this valuable research tool!

History Notes

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 MN state legislature revoked Brainerd's charter for six year.

For more information see:
Wikipedia: Brainerd, Minnesota,_Minnesota

From 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.
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 11/19/1881.
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 four 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.