Brainerd, Minnesota: Wikis


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Brainerd, Minnesota
—  City  —

Location in Crow Wing County and the state of Minnesota
Brainerd, Minnesota is located in Minnesota
Brainerd, Minnesota
Location in Crow Wing County and the state of Minnesota
Coordinates: 46°21′29″N 94°12′03″W / 46.35806°N 94.20083°W / 46.35806; -94.20083
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Crow Wing
Founded 1870
Incorporated 1873
 - Mayor James Wallin
 - Total 8.4 sq mi (21.9 km2)
 - Land 8.0 sq mi (20.6 km2)
 - Water 0.5 sq mi (1.2 km2)  5.57%%
Elevation 1,217 ft (371 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 13,178
 Density 1,652.8/sq mi (638.4/km2)
Time zone Central (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) Central (UTC-5)
ZIP code 56401
Area code(s) 218
FIPS code 27-07300[1]
GNIS feature ID 0640426[2]

Brainerd is a city in Crow Wing County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 13,178 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Crow Wing County[3] and one of the largest cities in Central Minnesota. Brainerd straddles the Mississippi River several miles upstream from the confluence with the Crow Wing River, having been founded as a site for a railroad crossing above that confluence.

Brainerd is the principal city of the Brainerd Micropolitan Statistical Area, a micropolitan area that covers Cass and Crow Wing counties[4] and had a combined population of 82,249 at the 2000 census.[1] The Brainerd area serves as a major tourist destination for Minnesota, and Baxter is a regional retail center.

Brainerd is the home to one of five medivac helicopter flight stations in the state for AirCare, operated by North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, MN, a Level 1 Trauma Center located in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. This station covers the central part of Minnesota.

The city is also known for the Brainerd International Raceway.



Originally Ojibwe territory, Brainerd was first seen by white men on Christmas Day in 1805, when Zebulon Pike stopped there while searching for the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Crow Wing Village, a fur and logging community near Fort Ripley, brought settlers to the area in the mid-1800s.

In these early years the relationship between the settlers and the Indians was complicated. The most famous example of this tenuous relationship was the so-called "Blueberry War" of 1872. Two Ojibwe were hanged for allegedly murdering a missing girl, and when a group of Indians approached the town, troops from nearby Fort Ripley were called in to prevent a potential reprisal. As it turns out, however, the Ojibwe only wanted to sell blueberries and the settlers narrowly avoided a bloody misunderstanding.

Brainerd was the brainchild of Northern Pacific railroad president John Gregory Smith, who in 1870 named the township after his wife, Anne Eliza Brainerd Smith, and father-in-law, Lawrence Brainerd. The company built a bridge over the Mississippi seven miles north of Crow Wing Village and used the Brainerd station as a machine and car shop, prompting many to move north and abandon Crow Wing. Brainerd was organized as a city on March 6, 1873.

The water tower along
Minnesota Highway 210 in downtown Brainerd serves as a symbol of the community.

On January 11, 1876, the state legislature revoked Brainerd's charter for six years, as a reaction to the election of local handyman Thomas Lanihan as mayor instead of Judge C.B. Sleeper. Brainerd once again functioned as a township in the interim.

In 1881 the railroad, and with it the town, expanded. Lumber and paper, as well as agriculture in general, were important early industries, but for many decades Brainerd remained a railroad town: in the 1920s roughly 90 percent of Brainerd residents were dependent on the railroad. Participation in the nationwide railroad strike on July 1, 1922, left the majority of Brainerd residents unemployed and embittered many of those involved.

On October 27, 1933, the First National Bank of Brainerd became briefly famous when it was held up by Baby Face Nelson and his gang.

Over the years increased efficiency and the better positioning of the more centralized Livingston, Montana shops led to a decline in the importance of a railroad station that once employed over a thousand and serviced locomotives for the whole Northern Pacific line. Despite this, the BNSF Railway (successor to the Northern Pacific) continues to employ approximately 70 people in Brainerd at a maintenance-of-way equipment shop responsible for performing repairs and preventative maintenance to track and equipment.

The Northwest Paper Company built Brainerd's first paper mill in 1903 and with the steady increase in tourism since the early 1900s the paper and service industries have become Brainerd's primary employers. The town's coating mill was sold by Potlatch to Sappi Limited in 2002 and then by Sappi Limited to Wausau Paper in 2004.

Brainerd itself is now heavily developed into commercial and residential areas and most new construction in the area takes place in neighboring Baxter.

Of interest is the outbreak of the Brainerd diarrhea that involved 122 people in 1983. Unpasteurized milk was implicated as the cause, and no fear of reemergence exists.


Fishing dock, Crow Wing Lake. Brainerd-area lakes attract many summer visitors from the nearby Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Brainerd is located just north of the geographical center of Minnesota, in a relatively hilly terminal moraine area created by the Superior Lobe of the Labradorian ice sheet. The town occupies land on both sides of the Mississippi River, though the older parts of Brainerd are almost all to the east.

Though the city itself has relatively few lakes, there are over 460 lakes within 25 miles (40 km) of Brainerd, located mostly to the north. For this reason, Crow Wing County and parts of the adjoining counties are often collectively referred to as the Brainerd Lakes Area.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.4 square miles (21.9 km²), of which, 8.0 square miles (20.6 km²) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.2 km²) of it (5.57%) is water.

Minnesota State Highways 18, 25, 210, and 371 are four of the main routes in the community.

Brainerd has been assigned ZIP code 56401 by the USPS.


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1890 5,703
1900 7,524 31.9%
1910 8,526 13.3%
1920 9,591 12.5%
1930 10,221 6.6%
1940 12,071 18.1%
1950 12,087 0.1%
1960 12,898 6.7%
1970 11,667 −9.5%
1980 11,489 −1.5%
1990 12,353 7.5%
2000 13,178 6.7%
Est. 2008 13,691 3.9%

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 13,178 people, 5,623 households, and 3,036 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,652.8 people per square mile (638.4/km²). There were 5,847 housing units at an average density of 733.3/sq mi (283.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.83% White, 0.71% African American, 1.44% Native American, 0.46% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.26% from other races, and 1.29% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.86% of the population. 31.4% were of German, 17.7% Norwegian, 7.1% Swedish, 6.8% Irish and 6.1% United States or American ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 5,623 households out of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.8% were married couples living together, 14.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.0% were non-families. 37.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.1% under the age of 18, 13.7% from 18 to 24, 26.3% from 25 to 44, 16.8% from 45 to 64, and 18.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 85.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,901, and the median income for a family was $35,212. Males had a median income of $27,677 versus $21,217 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,744. About 11.8% of families and 17.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.5% of those under age 18 and 16.0% of those age 65 or over.


Brainerd claims Paul Bunyan as its native; the world's largest animated statue of him, once located at Paul Bunyan Amusement Center in nearby Baxter, was moved a few miles east of the town to This Old Farm after the amusement center closed in 2003.

Much of the Coen brothers' 1996 movie Fargo takes place in a fictional version of Brainerd. The critically-acclaimed film, produced by MGM, was ranked #84 on the American Film Institute's "100 Years...100 Movies" list in 1998, although it was removed from the 2007 version, and #93 on its "100 Years...100 Laughs" list. The landmarks pictured in the film (the Blue Ox Bar, the Paul Bunyan statue) are not, however, those actually located in Brainerd. The scenes set on the highway near Brainerd, most likely highway 210, in the movie were filmed in Bathgate, North Dakota.

On June 30, 1999, then-21-year-old Farrah Slad of Brainerd won what was Minnesota's largest lottery prize, $150 million in the multi-state Powerball game. (The state record was broken on May 3, 2008 by a ticket purchased in Faribault.)

Brainerd is mentioned in the title and lyrics of the song "ToolMaster of Brainerd" by Trip Shakespeare.

In sports, Brainerd is home to the Brainerd Lakes Area Lunkers of the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer baseball league. The Lunkers play at Mills Field in Brainerd.

Brainerd is home to a landfill gas collection system that reduces methane gas that would otherwise go into the atmosphere. In addition, the collected gas is used in a boiler, replacing natural gas as the source of heat. This project has received carbon credits from terrapass as its sole source of revenue.[5].

Notable Residents

(*) = Indicates former resident

Points of interest

Radio stations

FM radio
AM radio


External links

Coordinates: 46°21′29″N 94°12′03″W / 46.35806°N 94.20083°W / 46.35806; -94.20083



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