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Lake County, Minnesota facts for kids

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Lake County
Lake County Courthouse
Map of Minnesota highlighting Lake 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 March 1, 1856
Named for Lake Superior
Seat Two Harbors
Largest city Two Harbors
 • Total 2,991 sq mi (7,750 km2)
 • Land 2,109 sq mi (5,460 km2)
 • Water 881 sq mi (2,280 km2)  29%%
 • Total 10,905
 • Density 5.2/sq mi (2.0/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 8th

Lake County is a county in the U.S. state of Minnesota. As of the 2020 United States Census, the population was 10,905. Its county seat is Two Harbors.


Lake County was founded on February 20, 1855, as Superior County, though its name was changed on March 3, of that year to Saint Louis County. On March 1, 1856, Saint Louis County became Lake County, while Newton County to the west was renamed Saint Louis County.

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area had long been inhabited by Native American groups. At the time of European contact, the principal Native American groups in the region were the Dakota (Sioux) and Ojibwe (also called Anishinabe or Chippewa). The economy of these groups was based on hunting, fishing and gathering, with wild rice being of particular importance. The first Europeans to explore the area were the French in the late 17th century who were followed by trappers, fur traders, missionaries, and explorers. Beaver Bay was the first city in Lake County in 1855.

In 1868, iron ore was discovered on the Vermilion Range by George Stuntz. In 1884, the first shipment of ore left Agate Bay, marking Minnesota's entry into the iron ore industry. During the late 1880s, commercial fishing began on Lake Superior with the coming of Swedish and Norwegian immigrants to the North Shore. In 1890, the Merritt brothers discovered the Mesabi Range. The Two Harbors Lighthouse was built on Agate Bay in 1892. Ten years later, five Two Harbors businessmen signed the articles of incorporation for a new mining company named 3M. Today, 3M Corporation has over 70,000 employees worldwide and produces more than 50,000 adhesive household products, now has its headquarters in Saint Paul.

In 1906, the Court House, which stands to this day, was built. In 1907, one of the nation's first steel ore docks was built in Two Harbors. In 1944, one of the first HMOs in the United States was created in Lake County to serve railroad employees. A second iron ore boom took place in the 1950s with the development of the taconite beneficiation process for turning lean, low-grade iron ore into a shippable product.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,991 square miles (7,750 km2), of which 2,109 square miles (5,460 km2) is land and 881 square miles (2,280 km2) (29%) is water. It is the fifth-largest county in Minnesota by area.

Lake County is located in the Arrowhead Region of Northeastern Minnesota covering 2,062 miles. The county is known for its natural beauty; within its boundaries are four state parks and a National Forest. Lake County offers superior hiking, camping, fishing and winter recreational opportunities. Lake County has Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world right at its side. With its rugged beauty and pristine shoreline, Lake County offers many recreational opportunities as well as historical shipwrecks, two operating lighthouses and two public marinas. Lake County is home to mining, logging, wood products, lumbering, shipping and transportation, manufacturers, great health care and tourism for all ages.

Major highways

  • MN-1.svg Minnesota State Highway 1
  • MN-61.svg Minnesota State Highway 61
  • MN-169.svg Minnesota State Highway 169
  • List of county roads

Adjacent counties

National protected area

  • Superior National Forest (part)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 248
1870 135 −45.6%
1880 106 −21.5%
1890 1,299 1,125.5%
1900 4,654 258.3%
1910 8,011 72.1%
1920 8,251 3.0%
1930 7,068 −14.3%
1940 6,956 −1.6%
1950 7,781 11.9%
1960 13,702 76.1%
1970 13,351 −2.6%
1980 13,043 −2.3%
1990 10,415 −20.1%
2000 11,058 6.2%
2010 10,866 −1.7%
2020 10,905 0.4%
US Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2020
USA Lake County, Minnesota age pyramid
Age pyramid of county residents based on 2000 census data




  • Beaver Bay Township
  • Crystal Bay Township
  • Fall Lake Township
  • Silver Creek Township
  • Stony River Township

Census-designated place

Other unincorporated communities

Unorganized territories

  • Lake No. 1
  • Lake No. 2

Ghost towns

  • Avon
  • Avoy
  • Beaver
  • Britton
  • Buell
  • Case
  • Clark
  • Crystal
  • Darby Junction
  • Drummond
  • Eclfo
  • Emetta
  • Fernburg Tower
  • Forest Center
  • Freedom
  • Green
  • Greenwood Junction
  • Howlett
  • Jordan
  • Kent
  • London
  • Malmota (Marmata)
  • Maple
  • Marble Lake
  • Moose
  • Morris
  • Murfin
  • Nigadoo
  • Norshore Junction
  • North Branch
  • Riblet
  • Scott Junction
  • Silver
  • Splitrock
  • Stafford
  • Summit
  • Swift
  • Thomas
  • Waldo
  • Wanless
  • Westover
  • Whyte
  • Wolf
  • York
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