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Itasca County, Minnesota facts for kids

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Itasca County
Postcard. Grand Rapids High School was founded in 1895.
Postcard. Grand Rapids High School was founded in 1895.
Map of Minnesota highlighting Itasca County
Location within the U.S. state of Minnesota
Map of the United States highlighting Minnesota
Minnesota's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Minnesota
Founded October 27, 1849
Named for Lake Itasca
Seat Grand Rapids
Largest city Grand Rapids
 • Total 2,928 sq mi (7,580 km2)
 • Land 2,668 sq mi (6,910 km2)
 • Water 260 sq mi (700 km2)  8.9%%
 • Total 45,014
 • Estimate 
45,070 Increase
 • Density 16.9/sq mi (6.5/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 8th

Itasca County is located in the State of Minnesota. As of the 2020 census, the population was 45,014. Its county seat is Grand Rapids. The county is named after Lake Itasca, which is in turn a shortened version of the Latin words veritas caput, meaning 'truth' and 'head', a reference to the source of the Mississippi River. Portions of the Bois Forte and Leech Lake Indian reservations are in the county.


Itasca County was first formed in 1849, upon the creation of the Minnesota Territory. It was originally a much larger county, which covered many of today's northeastern Minnesota counties. The original Itasca County stretched over Cook, Lake, Saint Louis, Koochiching, eastern Lake of the Woods, eastern Beltrami, Itasca, northern Aitkin, and northern Carlton counties, today in Minnesota.

Itasca County was originally named for Lake Itasca (no longer in the county). It was found to be the true source of the Mississippi River. After many disputes over finding the source of the Mississippi River, Henry Roe Schoolcraft set out to find its true source in 1832. Once he came upon its true source, he decided to name this 'Lake Itasca.' The Mississippi River flows from its small beginnings at Lake Itasca past Bemidji, through Itasca County and continues all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.

Presidential Election Results 2004-2016
Year Democratic Republican
2016 37.75% 9,015 54.10% 12,920
2012 53.73% 12,852 43.90% 10,501
2008 55.18% 13,460 42.26% 10,309
2004 54.54% 13,290 43.93% 10,105


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,928 square miles (7,580 km2), of which 2,668 square miles (6,910 km2) is land and 260 square miles (670 km2) (8.9%) is water. It is the third-largest county in Minnesota by land area.

The landscape in Itasca County varies greatly. The low plains, rolling hills, and wetlands occur where there was glacial activity in the past. This area is known greatly for being forested, and has been for centuries. The different forests are made up of trees such as pines, spruces, hardwoods, cedar, and tamarack. The many large forests in the area make forestry and logging major sectors in the economy.

Major forests in the county include the Chippewa National Forest, the Big Fork State Forest, George Washington State Forest, Golden Anniversary State Forest, and the Marcell Experimental Forest.

In Itasca County there are many different bodies of water from big lakes, to small creeks, to major rivers. Over 1400 lakes are located within the county. These bodies of water help support many different wildlife species such as different birds and small mammals. Major bodies of water in the county include Lake Winnibigoshish, Pokegama Lake, Deer Lake, the Mississippi River, Bowstring Lake, and the Blandin Paper Mill Reservoir.

Major highways

  • US 2.svg U.S. Highway 2
  • US 71.svg U.S. Highway 71
  • US 169 (MN).svg U.S. Highway 169
  • MN-1.svg Minnesota State Highway 1
  • MN-6.svg Minnesota State Highway 6
  • MN-38.svg Minnesota State Highway 38
  • MN-46.svg Minnesota State Highway 46
  • MN-65.svg Minnesota State Highway 65
  • MN-286.svg Minnesota State Highway 286

Adjacent counties

National protected area

  • Chippewa National Forest (part)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 97
1860 51 −47.4%
1870 96 88.2%
1880 124 29.2%
1890 743 499.2%
1900 4,573 515.5%
1910 17,208 276.3%
1920 23,876 38.7%
1930 27,224 14.0%
1940 32,996 21.2%
1950 33,321 1.0%
1960 38,006 14.1%
1970 35,530 −6.5%
1980 43,069 21.2%
1990 40,863 −5.1%
2000 43,992 7.7%
2010 45,058 2.4%
2015 (est.) 45,435 0.8%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2015
USA Itasca County, Minnesota age pyramid
Age pyramid of county residents based on 2000 U.S. census data

As of the census of 2000, there were 43,992 people, 17,789 households, and 12,381 families residing in the county. The population density was 16 people per square mile (6/km²). There were 24,528 housing units at an average density of 9 per square mile (4/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 94.64% White, 0.16% Black or African American, 3.40% Native American, 0.27% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.16% from other races, and 1.34% from two or more races. 0.60% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 25.6% were of German, 13.8% Norwegian, 7.7% Finnish, 7.2% Swedish, 6.2% Irish, 5.0% United States or American and 5.0% English ancestry.

There were 17,789 households out of which 29.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.30% were married couples living together, 7.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.40% were non-families. 26.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the county, the population was spread out with 24.40% under the age of 18, 7.60% from 18 to 24, 24.40% from 25 to 44, 26.70% from 45 to 64, and 16.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 99.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $36,234, and the median income for a family was $44,025. Males had a median income of $37,066 versus $22,327 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,717. About 7.70% of families and 10.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.60% of those under age 18 and 8.80% of those age 65 or over.




  • Alvwood Township
  • Arbo Township
  • Ardenhurst Township
  • Balsam Township
  • Bearville Township
  • Bigfork Township
  • Blackberry Township
  • Bowstring Township
  • Carpenter Township
  • Deer River Township
  • Feeley Township
  • Good Hope Township
  • Goodland Township
  • Grand Rapids Township
  • Grattan Township
  • Greenway Township
  • Harris Township
  • Iron Range Township
  • Kinghurst Township
  • Lake Jessie Township
  • Lawrence Township
  • Lone Pine Township
  • Marcell Township
  • Max Township
  • Moose Park Township
  • Morse Township
  • Nashwauk Township
  • Nore Township
  • Oteneagen Township
  • Pomroy Township
  • Sago Township
  • Sand Lake Township
  • Spang Township
  • Splithand Township
  • Stokes Township
  • Third River Township
  • Trout Lake Township
  • Wabana Township
  • Wawina Township
  • Wildwood Township
  • Wirt Township

Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

Unorganized territories

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