Crow Wing County Historical Society (webpage header)

90th Annual Meeting - Tuesday, April 25th

You are invited to the Crow Wing County Historical Society's 90th annual dinner and fund raiser on Tuesday, April 25th, 2017, at the American Legion at 708 Front Street in Brainerd.

   5:00   Social Hour & Cash Bar, Silent Auction Begins.
   6:00   Welcome, Introductions, Invocation, Dinner.
   7:30   Program by Julie Jo Larson about hidden historic treasures in family cemeteries.
   8:00   (approx.) Silent auction closes and winners announced, followed by annual message, reports, election, and closing comments.

Tickets cost $25.00 per person and include a dinner (choice of prime rib or walleye), tax & tip and a donation to the Historical Society.

Call the museum at 218-829-3268 if you are interested in receiving an invitation in the mail or if you want to purchase tickets. Payment must be received by April 14.

This annual event is open to the general public.

It's Our Birthday!

The “old jail” located next to the historic court house on Laurel Street turns 100 this year! There will be a celebration during Brainerd History Week (June 12 – 17) on Friday, June 16th. Watch for more information to come!

New Special Features Article

A new article authored by Ann M. Nelson has been added to the Special Features section to the right on the home page. Brainerd Utilities is a collection of newspaper stories and photos exploring the history of the Gas, Electric and Water services in Brainerd, including the Dam and the Water Tower. Most of the content has been moved from the other Features, but new content has also been added. All of the Special Features article are updated monthly.

Written Oral Histories Now Online

Back in the Great Depression, the government's Works Progress Administration (WPA) created jobs to employ millions of people to carry out public works projects.

One such project from 1936 to 1939 involved hiring persons to interview local people about their lives and the localities in which they lived. The interviewers then typed up the information that they were told. In essence, this project was an effort to record historical narratives for the sake of posterity. Part biographical and part local histories, these records contain a wealth of information for both genealogical and history buffs.

Volunteer Brian Marsh has worked on getting these typed pages digitized and they are now available to be viewed online on the Minnesota Digital Library's website. Visit our Research Library page for links.

2016 Brainerd History Week Booklet

“A Brief History of Early Northeast Brainerd”, a 35-page booklet by Ann M. Nelson, is available for download. See the Special Features section in the right-hand column.

2015 Brainerd History Week Booklet

The booklet for the Northside Neighborhood History Walk is available online. See the Special Features section in the right-hand column.

1889-1914 Mortuary Records Project

The Losey & Dean mortuary record books covering 1889-1914 have been photographed and indexed and are now available on the new Mortuary Records page.

Oral Histories Tape Digitization Project

The museum has a collection of oral histories recorded on cassette tapes with transcriptions done at the time of the recording. Several dozen of these tapes have been digitized by the Minnesota Digital Library. Those digital audio files and the transcriptions are now available online at the Minnesota Reflections website in the Crow Wing County Historical Society Oral Histories section.

Carbine House Restoration Ribbon Cutting June 2014 Photo

The Carbine House restoration by Edlund Construction of Richmond, MN, was completed in time for the Crow Wing Historical Society to have a Carbine House Restoration ribbon cutting ceremony on June 19, 2014, during Brainerd History Week.

The restoration was funded by the Legacy Fund Minnesota sales tax and contributions from local govermental units as well as from generous donors. The Carbine House web page will be update shortly with more photos and a link posted here.

We Are Now On Facebook

FB The Historical Society has joined the modern age on Facebook! “Like” our page to get event announcements & reminders and the occasional tidbit in your news feed.

Ryan Law Office Historic Display

Don Ryan, Crow Wing County attorney, has donated a large selection of heirlooms from his family's long line of attorneys-at-law. The items include a wooden desk, a map cabinet, photos, letterhead, trial exhibits, even a spittoon. More details are found in the Brainerd Dispatch article: Legal legacy: Ryan family donates items to museum.
(Photo credit: Kelly Humphrey)

The new Ryan Law Office exhibit is on the third floor of the museum, next to the newly-restored portrait of Lyman P. White. Visitors hours are 10-3, Tuesday through Saturday.

Northern Pacific Railroad Video

The historic Northern Pacific Railroad Shops and the significant role they played in the development of Brainerd are the subject of this video produced by Central Lakes College student, Tyler Mumm.

2012 Railroad Roundhouse Symposium

The 2012 Brainerd Lakes Railroad Roundhouse Symposium on Saturday, September 15, 2012 at the Northern Pacific Industrial Center was attended by over 180 people. As part of the program, the original NP Shops Steam Whistle on display at the museum blew once again for the first time in 29 years.

Lakeland Public TV did a nice Community Spotlight report on the Symposium and the NP Railroad's connection with the founding of Brainerd.

Cultural Heritage Fund Grants

Exciting news for genealogists and researchers! Thanks to a state grant and generous donors, the Crow Wing County Historical Society has purchased a ScanPro 2000 Digital Microfilm Scanner for its research library. It attaches to a PC and digitally scans microfilm or microfiche. The digital scan can be printed, emailed, or saved to a flash drive.

We applied for and were awarded another state grant to restore a very large portrait of Lyman P. White (1810 - 1902), said by some to be the "Father of Brainerd" for all he did in the early days of Brainerd. The portrait used to be on display in the former museum located in the basement of the court house, but has been in storage due to its poor condition. When the restoration and frame repair is complete, it will once again be on prominent display in the museum.

The state grants for these projects were made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on November 4, 2008. Administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.

Brainerd History Walks - Downtown Tour

Through a collaboration of the Brainerd History Group, the Brainerd Public Library, the Crow Wing County Historical Society and a tremendous group of volunteers, you can now tour the history of Downtown Brainerd in a variety of formats.
All items are available at the City of Brainerd's website:

This project was funded in part or in whole with money from Minnesota's Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

Lakeland Public TV "Common Ground" Video

The March 4, 2010 episode of Lakeland Public TV's "Common Ground" program has a segment narrated by former Museum Director Marilyn Anderson that was taped in January showcasing the Sheriff's Residence and exhibits. Watch the segment online (00:08:40 long) by clicking on the image, below (will open a new window).

The Crow Wing County Historical Society has been keeping tabs on Crow Wing County's history since 1927. The museum has three floors of exhibits including displays on the lumber industry, the railroads, mining, and home life. You can also walk through a period home from the early 1900s, completely restored!

Venture into your own history using the museum's research library; look through hundreds of historical photographs, maps, and books. Page through historical copies of several area newspapers, some going back to the late 1800s.

The museum and library are open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 AM to 3 PM. We ask a donation of $3.00 per adult. Come take a look!
National Geographic Tourism badge

“Images of America: Brainerd” Book Cover
The pictorial book authored by the Society is available for purchase. Click on “Brainerd” Book in the top menu for details & ordering info.

Updated! April 17, 2017 Updated!

Buildings & Parks of Some Historical Significance to the City of Brainerd

Bridges, Ferries, Jumps, Mills, Rinks, Railways, Slides, Steamboats, & More
in the City of Brainerd

New! Brainerd Utilities New!
(Dam, Gas, Electric, Water & Tower)

Early Accounts of Brainerd

‘Soiled Doves’ Roost
in the ‘City of Pines’

Brainerd City Bands

Brainerd: City of Fire

Brainerd Newspapers

Paper Mills In Brainerd

Northern Pacific R. R. in Brainerd

N. P. R. R. 1888 Directory

Happenings in Brainerd in 1914

Northside History Walk Booklet (2015)

A Brief History of Early
Northeast Brainerd (2016)

Fall 2016 Newsletter
Summer 2016 Newsletter
Fall 2015 Newsletter
Summer 2015 Newsletter
Fall 2014 Newsletter
Summer 2014 Newsletter
Fall 2013 Newsletter
Summer 2013 Newsletter
Fall 2012 Newsletter
Summer 2012 Newsletter

These businesses and individuals support the Crow Wing County Historical Society with memberships at the Sustaining level or above.
John Van Essen
Retirement Learning Center
Schaefer's Foods
Scotch Pine Tree Farm
Jerome Peterson
Ace Auto Sales
Anderson Brothers
Boberg & Boberg Enterprises
Cragun's Resort
First Impression Printing
Julie Ingleman Designs
Stifel Nicolaus
W.W. Thompson Concrete Products
Carl Faust
Joan Hill
Wallace McKay
Dana Moen
Ann Nelson
Maurice Olson
Mary Saboe
Andy Walsh
Brainerd BN Credit Union
Brekken's Clothiers
Roundhouse Brewery
Jack Pine Brewery LLC
Magellan Global - LLC
Dr. Nicholas Bernier
Richard & Katherine Breen
Kent & Clara Carlson
Rod & Avis Converse
Mervin Eisel
John & Janet Erickson
John & Arlene Fitzpatrick
Lester & Lucy Franz
David & Kathleen Hermerding
George & Jan Hooper
Ted & Norma Kotyk
Carroll Kukowski
Arthur Ludwig
Brian Marsh
Bob Nystrom
Larry Osvold
James & Diane Runberg
Brian Sedlachek

Plaque: Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places
The Historical Society Museum is on
the National Register of Historic Places.

Portrait by Freeman Thorp of Unidentified Man
Freeman Thorp painting of Unidentified Man.
Help Us Solve the Mystery!
(Click on picture to enlarge to 2700x3100)