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City of Floodwood
Main Street-Floodwood-20120406.jpg
The Catfish Capital of the World
A City for All Seasons
Location of the city of Floodwoodwithin Saint Louis County, Minnesota
Location of the city of Floodwood
within Saint Louis County, Minnesota
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Saint Louis
Incorporated 1899
 • Total 1.51 sq mi (3.91 km2)
 • Land 1.51 sq mi (3.91 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
1,250 ft (381 m)
 • Total 528
 • Estimate 
 • Density 345.70/sq mi (133.48/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 218
FIPS code 27-21338
GNIS feature ID 0661287

Floodwood is a city in Saint Louis County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 528 at the 2010 census.

Originally a logging community, it was a dairy community for most of its history, but could now be best described as a bedroom community, since most of its working population finds employment in nearby Duluth, Grand Rapids, Hibbing and Cloquet. The city describes itself as "The Catfish Capital of the World", a nickname it gave to itself following the introduction of the community's annual Catfish Days festival.

U.S. Highway 2 and State Highway 73 (MN 73) are two of the main routes in Floodwood.


Long before the city of Floodwood existed, its strategic location at the intersection of the East Savanna River with the Saint Louis River made what would later become the city of Floodwood a strategic economic location. The Savanna Portage was a major route for transportation in the southern Arrowhead, but its importance was magnified greatly with the arrival of European fur traders, who used the route to access rich resources of beaver and other fur animals in the upper Mississippi valley. As early as 1679, Europeans were passing by the modern location of Floodwood as they turned from the Saint Louis River to the East Savanna River on their way to the portage.

However, it was not until the late 19th century that homesteads began to appear in the area. In 1889, it was announced that a railroad would pass through the area. This announcement led to a local population boom in anticipation of the opportunities the railroad would bring. In 1890 J. C. Campbell began large-scale logging operations in the area and the C. N. Nelson Lumber Company of Cloquet built a logging railroad in the area (albeit, the logging railroad only operated in the winter - during the summer, the logging operations took advantage of the Saint Louis River to transport timber to mills in Cloquet).

In 1893, the year that local government was first organized, the first Floodwood School building was constructed of logs. The following year, the Nelson Company was purchased by what would, six years later, become the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company, continuing the intensification of logging activities in the area. The community continued to grow and, in 1899, was finally incorporated.

By the time the 1900 United States Census was conducted, Floodwood had a population of 224, which, within the next 10 years, more than doubled to 481. In 1911, the Floodwood School, which had previously been a county school, became Independent School District No. 19 (after 1958, Independent School District 698), and a new, six room, brick building was built for it. The community continued to grow until the 1918 Cloquet Fire nearly ended the city's history.

Floodwood, like most of its neighbors, survived the fire and began a slow recovery. However, the practical importance of the rivers, and thus Floodwood's greatest economic resource, ended. By 1926, the era of large-scale timber operations in the area had come to a close. With the logging operations gone, Floodwood's survival was again in peril.

The solution had already been present since 1911: as the surrounding areas had pastures suitable for supporting dairy cattle, the focus of the community's economy turned to dairy production following the exit of the timber companies. In 1911, the Floodwood Creamery Cooperative was organized. The creamery became the main support of the local economy, selling local dairy products across the world until it closed in the late 1960s. Dairy cattle are still a major part of the local economy.

The 1970 Census showed, for the first time since 1920, that Floodwood's population had decreased. This began a trend that has endured to the present - the last time a census showed an increase in Floodwood's population was in 1960.


Floodwood water tower
Floodwood water tower

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.42 square miles (3.68 km2), all of it land.

Floodwood sits at the junction of U.S. Highway 2 and Minnesota State Highway 73. It is roughly halfway between Duluth and Grand Rapids along U.S. Highway 2, as well as roughly halfway between Hibbing and Moose Lake along State Highway 73. Also nearby is the city of Cloquet.

Floodwood is 46 miles (74 km) northwest of Duluth and 37 miles (60 km) southeast of Grand Rapids. Floodwood is 33 miles (53 km) northwest of Cloquet and 40 miles (64 km) south of Hibbing.

The city sits at the junctions of the Floodwood River and the East Savanna River with the Saint Louis River. The area surrounding the city largely comprises forests, wetlands and, where the conditions permit, dairy farms. Nearby peat bogs employ many people from Floodwood, Meadowlands and other communities in southwest Saint Louis County. Protected areas near Floodwood include Savanna Portage State Park, the Savanna State Forest and the Floodwood Game Reserve. The Savanna Portage, together with the three rivers that meet in the city, contributes much to local culture.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 224
1910 481 114.7%
1920 277 −42.4%
1930 343 23.8%
1940 571 66.5%
1950 667 16.8%
1960 677 1.5%
1970 650 −4.0%
1980 648 −0.3%
1990 574 −11.4%
2000 503 −12.4%
2010 528 5.0%
2019 (est.) 522 −1.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 528 people, 257 households, and 118 families living in the city. The population density was 371.8 inhabitants per square mile (143.6/km2). There were 292 housing units at an average density of 205.6 per square mile (79.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.9% White, 0.8% African American, 0.6% Native American, 0.4% from other races, and 4.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.1% of the population.

There were 257 households, of which 23.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.0% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 54.1% were non-families. 47.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 21.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.03 and the average family size was 2.92.

The median age in the city was 40.9 years. 21.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.8% were from 25 to 44; 24.5% were from 45 to 64; and 20.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 50.4% male and 49.6% female.

Notable people

  • John Raymond Ylitalo, diplomat and 29th United States Ambassador to Paraguay – was born in Floodwood
  • Joe Polo, American curler in the 2006 Winter Olympics and 2018 Winter Olympics gold medalist– spent some of his early childhood years in Floodwood

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Floodwood para niños

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