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Koochiching County, Minnesota facts for kids

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Koochiching County
Koochiching County Courthouse
Koochiching County Courthouse
Map of Minnesota highlighting Koochiching 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 December 19, 1906
Named for Ojibway words for neighbor lake, river
Seat International Falls
Largest city International Falls
 • Total 3,154 sq mi (8,170 km2)
 • Land 3,104 sq mi (8,040 km2)
 • Water 50 sq mi (100 km2)  1.6%%
 • Total 12,062
 • Estimate 
11,941 Decrease
 • Density 3.9/sq mi (1.5/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 8th

Koochiching County ( koo-CHITCH-ing) is a county in the U.S. state of Minnesota. As of the 2020 census, the population was 12,062. Its county seat is International Falls. A portion of the Bois Forte Indian Reservation is in the county. A small part of Voyageurs National Park extends into its boundary, with Lake of the Woods County to its northwest.


Historymakers of Koochiching County were of many occupations. They were explorers, traders, homesteaders, and lumberjacks. They also were teachers, preachers, merchants, engineers, and builders of industry. Settlers came at the beginning of the 1900s and suffered through isolation, illness, harsh weather, and poverty. They built schools, churches, and good roads. Koochiching County is the second largest county in area next to Saint Louis County. It is also one of the youngest counties in the state having been created in 1906 after it was separated from Itasca County. The name "Koochiching" comes from either the Ojibwe word Gojijiing or Cree Kocicīhk (recorded in some documents as "Ouchichiq"), both meaning "at the place of inlets," referring to the neighboring Rainy Lake and River. Reverend J.A. Gilfillan recorded their meaning, "according to some, Neighbor lake, according to others a lake somewhere," possibly referring to the neighbouring Rainy Lake and to Lake Couchiching located in southern Ontario. Early European (French) inhabitants gave the names Lac à la Pluie (Rainy Lake) and Rivière à la Pluie (Rainy River) to the nearby bodies of water because of the mist-like rain present at the falls of Rainy River and then to the settlement that became known as International Falls. About 10,000 years ago almost 90% of Koochiching County was covered by Lake Agassiz. When it receded it left low areas of decayed vegetation (muskeg); as a result, three-quarters of northern Koochiching are underlain with 2 to 50 feet of peat.


Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs National Park

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 3,154 square miles (8,170 km2), of which 3,104 square miles (8,040 km2) is land and 50 square miles (130 km2) (1.6%) is water. It is the second-largest county in Minnesota by land area and third-largest by total area.

Major rivers in the county are Big Fork River, Little Fork River, Rat Root River, Black River, and Rapid River. The highest altitude in the county is in the Northome area which is 1426 feet above sea level which is about 325 feet higher than Rainy Lake. The land surface is mostly flat with swampy areas where Lake Agassiz basin was deepest. There are also deposits of peat from 1½ to 50 feet in the low areas which is a result from vegetation. The general surface of Koochiching County is flat with spots of land broken in places by ledges of precambrian rock. Bed rock in the area includes Ely greenstone and greenstone schists that are said to be among the oldest on the planet. In the northeastern tip of the county is a section of Voyageurs National Park and Black Bay. Franz Jevne State Park is located on Rainy River between International Falls and Baudette.

Major highways

  • US 53.svg U.S. Highway 53
  • US 71.svg U.S. Highway 71
  • MN-1.svg Minnesota State Highway 1
  • MN-6.svg Minnesota State Highway 6
  • MN-11.svg Minnesota State Highway 11
  • MN-46.svg Minnesota State Highway 46
  • MN-65.svg Minnesota State Highway 65
  • MN-217.svg Minnesota State Highway 217
  • MN-332.svg Minnesota State Highway 332

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


  • Bartlett Lake
  • Battle Lake
  • Cameron Lake
  • Clear Lake
  • Dark Lake
  • Franklin Lake
  • Larson Lake
  • Little Constance Lake
  • Little Lake
  • Lost Lake
  • Moose Lake
  • Myrtle Lake
  • Nett Lake
  • Pine Lake
  • Pocquette Lake
  • Rainy Lake
  • Rat Root Lake
  • Seretha Lake
  • Silversack Lake
  • Teufer Lake


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 6,431
1920 13,520 110.2%
1930 14,078 4.1%
1940 16,930 20.3%
1950 16,910 −0.1%
1960 18,190 7.6%
1970 17,131 −5.8%
1980 17,571 2.6%
1990 16,299 −7.2%
2000 14,355 −11.9%
2010 13,311 −7.3%
2015 (est.) 12,841 −3.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2015
USA Koochiching County, Minnesota age pyramid
Age pyramid of county residents based on 2000 U.S. census data

As of the census of 2000, there were 14,355 people, 6,040 households, and 3,962 families residing in the county. The population density was 5 people per square mile (2/km²). There were 7,719 housing units at an average density of 2 per square mile (1/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.12% White, 0.19% Black or African American, 2.15% Native American, 0.17% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.08% from other races, and 1.23% from two or more races. 0.56% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 21.2% were of Norwegian, 19.8% German, 12.3% Swedish and 7.0% Irish ancestry.

There were 6,040 households out of which 28.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.30% were married couples living together, 8.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.40% were non-families. 30.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the county, the population was spread out with 23.90% under the age of 18, 6.40% from 18 to 24, 25.80% from 25 to 44, 26.00% from 45 to 64, and 18.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 98.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $36,262, and the median income for a family was $43,608. Males had a median income of $40,642 versus $22,261 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,167. About 8.40% of families and 12.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.10% of those under age 18 and 13.40% of those age 65 or over.


Koochiching County is unique in Minnesota, in the sense that there are no organized civil township governments within the county, due to legislative action taken by the county to absorb existing township governments. Survey townships, as defined by the Public Land Survey System exist but none are organized. Six city governments have been created, and the rest of the county consists of unorganized territories and unincorporated communities.


Unorganized territories

Census-designated place

Other unincorporated communities

Ghost towns

  • Border
  • Fairland
  • Falls Junction
  • Gates Corner
  • Laurel
  • Manitou
  • Nakoda
  • Rainy Lake City
  • Ridge
  • South International Falls
  • The Pines
  • Wayland

In popular culture

Koochiching County is the location of the fictional town of Frostbite Falls, the home of the animated characters Rocky and Bullwinkle. Frostbite Falls is widely assumed to have been named in honor of International Falls.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Koochiching para niños

Black History Month on Kiddle
Distinguished African-American Artists:
Sharif Bey
Hale Woodruff
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