Aitkin, Minnesota

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Aitkin, Minnesota
Aitkin County Courthouse
Motto: "Historic Mississippi Riverboat Town"[1]
Location of the city of Aitkinwithin Aitkin County, Minnesota
Location of the city of Aitkin
within Aitkin County, Minnesota
Coordinates: 46°31′55″N 93°42′27″W / 46.53194°N 93.70750°W / 46.53194; -93.70750
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Aitkin
 • Mayor Gary Tibbets
 • Total 2.20 sq mi (5.70 km2)
 • Land 2.20 sq mi (5.70 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 1,211 ft (369 m)
Population (2010)[3]
 • Total 2,165
 • Estimate (2012[4]) 2,112
 • Density 984.1/sq mi (380.0/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 56431
Area code(s) 218
FIPS code 27-00460[5]
GNIS feature ID 0639235[6]

Aitkin (/ˈkɨn/ AY-kin) is a city in Aitkin County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 2,165 at the 2010 census.[7] It is the county seat of Aitkin County.[8]


Jaques Art Center
(Formerly Aitkin Carnegie Library)

Aitkin was founded in 1870 when the Northern Pacific Railroad was extended to that point.[9] The city and county were named for William Alexander Aitken, a partner of the American Fur Company and chief factor of the company's regional operations in the early 19th century.[10] Many industries had attracted people to the town. In the late 19th and early 20th century, a massive wave of immigration, most likely from present day Ireland, Germany, and Scandinavian countries, had resided into the Aitkin area to pursue the logging and riverboat industries. After the Great Depression and World War II, the logging industry has changed the town into a farming community, consisting mostly of cattle and poultry, which continued until the late 1970s to early 1980s. A creamery [11] and a turkey plant was one of the town's major economic and industrial contributors. Not many farms are currently left over in Aitkin and by the 1990s, Aitkin has changed into a community for retirement and tourism, especially with the lake areas and that continues up to today. Health care, human services, and non-profit organizations are one of the major contributors to the modern day Aitkin economy, along with the hospitality industry.

Aitkin throughout the years in various locations had been impacted by occasional flooding of the Mississippi River. Major notable floods had reached past 20 ft. such as the 1950 flood and nearly 19 ft. such as the summer flooding in 2012. Many damage has taken place of the town because of the floods, and the 2012 flood was one of the first floods that overflowed the lake areas, flooding the cabins, since it was based on heavy rainfall instead of melting snow.

The Butler's store is one of Aitkin's major landmarks and has gone through many transformations. Opened in 1903, the Butler store was a home for shopping and entertainment, including an Opera house, which debuted a performance starring Judy Garland. The Butler store has transformed throughout the years from grocery stores, to a fabric/clothing store, to other little shops. In 2010, Butlers had closed, with plans being developed to change it into a homeless shelter, but that didn't happen. But in 2012, the Butler store was reworked as the Butler building, revitalizing the elements of the original Butler building from the early 20th century. Currently, the Butler building contains a coffee shop called The Beanery and also has dress shop. There has also been a revitalization of the building with musical performances being held in The Beanery, bringing back more themes from the original landmark. The Butler building is located one block away from the only stop light in the entire county.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.20 square miles (5.70 km2), all of it land.[2]


Climate data for Aitkin, Minnesota
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 18.7
Average low °F (°C) −2.9
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.9
Source: Weatherbase[12]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 737
1900 1,719 133.2%
1910 1,638 −4.7%
1920 1,490 −9.0%
1930 1,545 3.7%
1940 2,063 33.5%
1950 2,079 0.8%
1960 1,829 −12.0%
1970 1,553 −15.1%
1980 1,770 14.0%
1990 1,698 −4.1%
2000 1,984 16.8%
2010 2,165 9.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 2,165 people, 936 households, and 483 families residing in the city. The population density was 984.1 inhabitants per square mile (380.0/km2). There were 1,097 housing units at an average density of 498.6 per square mile (192.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.5% White, 0.8% African American, 1.5% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.1% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.2% of the population.

There were 936 households of which 27.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.8% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 48.4% were non-families. 43.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 25.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.08 and the average family size was 2.88.

The median age in the city was 44.3 years. 22.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.4% were from 25 to 44; 22% were from 45 to 64; and 27.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 45.3% male and 54.7% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 1,984 people, 892 households, and 434 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,150.3 people per square mile (445.4/km²). There were 969 housing units at an average density of 561.8 per square mile (217.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.33% White, 0.15% African American, 1.31% Native American, 0.25% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.35% from other races, and 0.55% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.76% of the population. 30.4% were of German, 16.6% Swedish, 12.3% Norwegian and 6.5% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 892 households out of which 22.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.5% were married couples living together, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.3% were non-families. 46.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 30.2% 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 2.90.

In the city the population was spread out with 20.8% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 21.6% from 25 to 44, 17.6% from 45 to 64, and 32.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 76.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 69.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $47,574, and the median income for a family was $58,071. Males had a median income of $50,577 versus $31,641 for females. The per capita income for the city was $26,471. About 7.1% of families and 9.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.0% of those under age 18 and 20.9% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture[edit]

Annual cultural events[edit]

The city's annual festivals include:

  • Riverboat Heritage Days - in the middle of July. Starting in 2010, it will be in the first week of August.
  • The Aitkin County Fair - annually at the middle of July since 2008.
  • Moonlight Madness - around Labor Day weekend.
  • Festival of Adventures and the Mud River Music Fest - third weekend in September.
  • County Road Classics Fly-In Drive in takes place on the last Sunday in June.
  • World Famous Fish House Parade takes place on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. This event was noted in a 2003 documentary which aired on the Home and Garden Channel in the USA.


Aitkin Public Schools are part of the Aitkin Public School District. Aitkin High School educates students in grades seven through twelve in the Aitkin School District. Rippleside Elementary educates students grades preschool to sixth grade.[13]



The Aitkin Municipal Airport is located at the northeast side of the city of Aitkin.

Major highways[edit]

The following routes are located within the city of Aitkin.

Notable people[edit]

American film actress and singer Judy Garland performed at the opera house in Aitkin as a young child. A small display related to Garland can be found in the converted opera house, now The Butler Building, in downtown Aitkin.[14]


  1. ^ "City of Aitkin Minnesota". City of Aitkin Minnesota. Retrieved October 16, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  3. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  4. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-05-28. 
  5. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ "2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File". American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  8. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  9. ^ Upham, Warren (1920). Minnesota Geographic Names: Their Origin and Historic Significance. Minnesota Historical Society. p. 14. 
  10. ^ "Profile for Aitkin, Minnesota, MN". ePodunk. Retrieved October 16, 2012. 
  11. ^ Hakes, Boyd. Mutual Creamary History, Aitkin, MN. Aitkin Historical Society. circa 1980. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  12. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Aitkin, Minnesota". Weatherbase. 2011.  Retrieved on November 24, 2011.
  13. ^ "Aitkin Public School District". Aitkin Public School District. Retrieved October 16, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Opera House". Butler’s – Aitkin, MN. Retrieved October 14, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 46°31′59″N 93°42′37″W / 46.53306°N 93.71028°W / 46.53306; -93.71028