Crow Wing County, Minnesota

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Crow Wing County, Minnesota
Crow Wing Co. Courthouse.JPG
Map of Minnesota highlighting Crow Wing County
Location in the state of Minnesota
Map of the United States highlighting Minnesota
Minnesota's location in the U.S.
Founded May 23, 1857[1]
Named for Crow Wing River
Seat Brainerd
Largest city Brainerd
 • Total 1,156.56 sq mi (2,995 km2)
 • Land 996.57 sq mi (2,581 km2)
 • Water 160.00 sq mi (414 km2), 13.83%
Population (Est.)
 • (2012) 62,882
 • Density 55/sq mi (21/km²)
Congressional district 8th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Crow Wing County is a county located in the U.S. state of Minnesota. As of the 2010 census, the population was 62,500.[2] Its county seat is Brainerd.[3]

Crow Wing County is included in the Brainerd, MN Micropolitan Statistical Area.


Crow Wing county was established on May 23, 1857 and organized March 3, 1870. It is named for the Crow Wing River, which is itself named for an island in the river which is shaped like the wing of a crow.

Twenty years or more before the county was outlined and named, a trading post was established on the east side of the Mississippi River opposite the mouth of the Crow Wing River. In 1837 there was again a station of the fur traders facing the northern mouth of the Crow Wing River. A few years later it became the center of Indian trading and had the general supply store for the area. By 1866 the village contained about 600 whites and Chippewas.

The part of Crow Wing County west of the Mississippi was annexed from Cass County by an act of the Legislature on February 18, 1887, doubling its former area.

Brainerd township was founded in 1870 when the Northern Pacific survey determined that the crossing of the Mississippi should be there. It became a city on November 19, 1881. The name was chosen in honor of the wife of J. Gregory Smith, the first president of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company. Mrs. Brainerd Smith was the author of novels, books of travel and other works.

The Northern Pacific Railroad ran its first train to Brainerd, a special train, on March 11, 1871 and its regular passenger service began the next September. The first passenger train from the Twin Cities, by way of Sauk Rapids, came November 1, 1877. Crow Wing, the former trading post, was soon superseded by Brainerd.

Presidential Election Results 2000-2008
Year Democratic Republican
2008 45.10% 15,859 52.80% 18,567
2004 41.75% 14,005 56.96% 19,106
2000 40.01% 11,255 53.45% 15,035


According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 1,156.56 square miles (2,995.5 km2), of which 996.57 square miles (2,581.1 km2) (or 86.17%) is land and 160.00 square miles (414.4 km2) (or 13.83%) is water.[4]

Topography and native vegetation[edit]

Crow Wing County has two state forests, the Crow Wing State Forest and the Emily State Forest. It also has the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail which lies in the Upper Mississippi River Basin. The topography of the region is gently rolling to flat, with waters and wetlands generously interspersed with the woodlands that cover the landscape. Native vegetation based on NRCS soils information shows:Crow Wing County Pie Chart New Wiki Version.pdf[5] It is home to an abundance of wildlife. Visitors may have the opportunity to see white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbit, snowshoe hare, raccoon, red fox, gray fox, coyote, mink, muskrat, squirrels, and beaver. Occasionally, American Black Bears may be observed. Bald Eagles and Osprey frequent the area, and many species of waterfowl also take advantage of the abundant aquatic habitat found in the marshes and lakes of the county.

There are many lakes and rivers in Crow Wing County. The main river is the Crow Wing River although there are more smaller streams in the county too. It has about 417 recognized lakes. The top ten ranked according to size are:

  1. Gull Lake – 9,419 acres (38.12 km2)
  2. Pelican Lake – 8,254 acres (33.40 km2)
  3. Upper and Lower White Fish Lake – 7,372 acres (29.83 km2)
  4. North Long Lake – 5,997 acres (24.27 km2)
  5. Lake Edward – 2,576 acres (10.42 km2)
  6. Bay Lake – 2,393 acres (9.68 km2)
  7. Cross Lake (Minnesota) – 1,752 acres (7.09 km2)
  8. Round Lake – 1,645 acres (6.66 km2)
  9. Big Trout Lake – 1,343 acres (5.43 km2)
  10. Lower South Long Lake – 1,312 acres (5.31 km2)

Superfund site and environmental damage[edit]

Crow Wing County contains the Burlington Northern (Brainerd/Baxter) United States Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site. The site, located between the cities of Brainerd and Baxter, was the location of a Burlington Northern Railroad tie treatment plant. Wastewater generated from the wood-treating process was sent to two shallow, unlined ponds. This created a sludge which contaminated both the underlying soils and the groundwater with creosote and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).[6]

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 269
1870 200 −25.7%
1880 2,319 1,059.5%
1890 8,852 281.7%
1900 14,250 61.0%
1910 16,861 18.3%
1920 24,566 45.7%
1930 25,627 4.3%
1940 30,226 17.9%
1950 30,875 2.1%
1960 32,134 4.1%
1970 34,826 8.4%
1980 41,722 19.8%
1990 44,249 6.1%
2000 55,099 24.5%
2010 62,500 13.4%
Est. 2012 62,882 0.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
2012 Estimate[2]

As of the census of 2000, there were 55,099 people, 22,250 households, and 15,174 families residing in the county. The population density was 55 people per square mile (21/km²). There were 33,483 housing units at an average density of 34 per square mile (13/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.64% White, 0.31% Black or African American, 0.78% Native American, 0.28% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.20% from other races, and 0.78% from two or more races. 0.69% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 32.5% were of German, 16.4% Norwegian, 9.4% Swedish, 6.2% Irish and 5.2% American ancestry.

There were 22,250 households out of which 30.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.70% were married couples living together, 8.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.80% were non-families. 26.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.70% 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 2.93.

Age pyramid of county residents based on 2000 U.S. census data

In the county the population was spread out with 24.80% under the age of 18, 8.10% from 18 to 24, 25.60% from 25 to 44, 24.40% from 45 to 64, and 17.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 96.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $37,589, and the median income for a family was $44,847. Males had a median income of $33,838 versus $22,896 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,174. About 6.50% of families and 9.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.40% of those under age 18 and 9.90% of those age 65 or over.

Cities and towns[edit]

Cities Townships Unincorporated
Unorganized Ghost town

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Minnesota Place Names". Minnesota Historical Society. Retrieved March 17, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 31, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ "Census 2010 Gazetteer Files". Retrieved July 2, 2013. 
  5. ^ Nelson, Steven (2011). Savanna Soils of Minnesota. Minnesota: Self. pp. 53 - 56. ISBN 978-0-615-50320-2.
  6. ^ "Burlington Northern (Brainerd/Baxter) Fact Sheet", EPA, 07/13/12
  7. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved August 31, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 46°29′N 94°04′W / 46.49°N 94.07°W / 46.49; -94.07