|Incorporated||March 6, 1873|
|• Mayor||Dave Badeaux|
|• Total||12.82 sq mi (33.21 km2)|
|• Land||12.13 sq mi (31.42 km2)|
|• Water||0.69 sq mi (1.79 km2) 5.78%|
|Elevation||1,217 ft (371 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||1,186.73/sq mi (458.20/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (CST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0640426|
Brainerd is a city in Crow Wing County, Minnesota, United States. Its population was 14,395 at the 2020 census. It is the county seat of Crow Wing County. Brainerd straddles the Mississippi River several miles upstream from its confluence with the Crow Wing River, having been founded as a site for a railroad crossing above the confluence. Brainerd is the principal city of the Brainerd Micropolitan Area, a micropolitan area covering Cass and Crow Wing counties and with a combined population of 96,189 at the 2020 census. The city is well known for being the partial setting of the 1996 film Fargo.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (January 2020)
The area that is now Brainerd was formerly Ojibwe territory. Brainerd was first seen by European settlers on Christmas Day in 1805, when Zebulon Pike stopped there while searching for the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Crow Wing Village, a fur and logging community near Fort Ripley, brought settlers to the area in the mid-19th century.
In those early years, the relationship between the settlers and the Native Americans was fraught. The most famous example of this tenuous relationship was the "Blueberry War" of 1872. Two Ojibwe were hanged for allegedly murdering a missing girl. When a group of Ojibwe approached the town, troops from Fort Ripley were called to prevent a potential reprisal. As it turned out, the Ojibwe only wanted to sell blueberries and the settlers avoided a bloody misunderstanding. The guilt of the two Ojibwe was never proven.
Brainerd was the idea of Northern Pacific railroad president John Gregory Smith, who in 1870 named the township after his wife, Anne Eliza Brainerd Smith, and father-in-law, Lawrence Brainerd. The company built a bridge over the Mississippi seven miles north of Crow Wing Village and used the Brainerd station as a machine and car shop, prompting many to move north and abandon Crow Wing. Brainerd was organized as a city on March 6, 1873.
On January 11, 1876, the state legislature revoked Brainerd's charter for six years, in reaction to the election of local handyman Thomas Lanihan as mayor instead of Judge C.B. Sleeper. Brainerd functioned as a township in the interim.
In 1881, the railroad, and with it the town, expanded. Lumber and paper, as well as agriculture in general, were important early industries, but for many decades Brainerd remained a railroad town: in the 1920s roughly 90% of Brainerd residents were dependent on the railroad. Participation in the nationwide railroad strike on July 1, 1922, left most Brainerd residents unemployed and embittered many of those involved.
On October 27, 1933, the First National Bank of Brainerd became briefly famous when it was held up by Baby Face Nelson and his gang.
Over the years, increased efficiency and the better positioning of the more centralized Livingston, Montana, shops led to a decline in the importance of a railroad station that once employed over 1,000 and serviced locomotives for the whole Northern Pacific line. The BNSF Railway (successor to the Northern Pacific) continues to employ approximately 70 people in Brainerd at a maintenance-of-way equipment shop that repairs and maintains track and equipment. The former Northern Pacific railway station has been converted to breweries, coffee shops, and event centers available to rent for special occasions.
The Northwest Paper Company built Brainerd's first paper mill in 1903 and with the steady increase in tourism since the early 20th century the paper and service industries have become Brainerd's primary employers. The town's coating mill was sold by Potlatch to Missota Paper in 2003 and then by Missota Paper to Wausau Paper in 2004. It is now used as a small industrial center called Brainerd Industrial Center (BIC).
Due to the many lakes in the area, Brainerd is a popular summertime destination for those owning cabins in the area, better known as the Brainerd Lakes. Brainerd itself is now heavily developed into commercial and residential areas and has seen an uptick in development in recent years.
Brainerd is just north of Minnesota's geographical center, in a relatively hilly terminal moraine area created by the Superior Lobe of the Labradorian ice sheet. The town occupies land on both sides of the Mississippi River, though its older parts are almost all to the east.
Though the city itself has relatively few lakes, there are over 460 lakes within 25 miles (40 km) of Brainerd, mostly to the north. For this reason, Crow Wing County and parts of the adjoining counties are often collectively called the Brainerd Lakes Area.
|Climate data for Brainerd, Minnesota (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1899–present)|
|Record high °F (°C)||56
|Average high °F (°C)||19.6
|Daily mean °F (°C)||8.8
|Average low °F (°C)||−2.0
|Record low °F (°C)||−48
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||0.80
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||10.0
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||7.5||6.3||7.1||9.2||12.5||13.0||11.6||10.1||10.4||9.9||7.1||8.5||113.2|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||6.1||5.0||3.5||1.7||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.6||3.2||6.7||26.8|
Superfund site and environmental damage
The Burlington Northern (Brainerd/Baxter) United States Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site is on the boundary between Brainerd and Baxter. The site served as a Burlington Northern Railroad tie treatment plant from 1907 to 1985. During that time, wastewater generated from the wood-treating process was sent to two shallow, unlined ponds. This created a toxic sludge that contaminated both the underlying soils and the groundwater with creosote and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2020, the population was 14,395. The population density was 1,186.7 inhabitants per square mile (458.2/km2). There were 6,473 housing units at an average density of 533.6 per square mile (206.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 88.6% White, 2.2% Native American, 1.6% Black or African American, 0.7% Asian, 0.8% from other races, and 6.1% from two or more races. Ethnically, the population was 2.5% Hispanic or Latino of any race.
As of the census of 2010, there were 13,590 people, 5,851 households, and 3,069 families living in the city. The population density was 1,141.1 inhabitants per square mile (440.6/km2). There were 6,390 housing units at an average density of 536.5 per square mile (207.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.5% White, 1.2% African American, 1.6% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 3.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.8% of the population.
There were 5,851 households, of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.7% were married couples living together, 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 47.5% were non-families. 37.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.92.
The median age in the city was 32.2 years. 24.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 12.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27.5% were from 25 to 44; 20.5% were from 45 to 64, and 15.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.6% male and 52.4% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 13,178 people, 5,623 households and 3,036 families living in the city. The population density was 1,652.8 inhabitants per square mile (638.1/km2). There were 5,847 housing units at an average density of 733.3 per square mile (283.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.83% White, 0.71% African American, 1.44% Native American, 0.46% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.26% from other races, and 1.29% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.86% of the population. 31.4% were of German, 28.1% were Finnish, 17.7% Norwegian, 7.1% Swedish, 6.8% Irish, and 6.1% United States or American ancestry.
There were 5,623 households, of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.8% were married couples living together, 14.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.0% were non-families. 37.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.94.
Age distribution was 25.1% under the age of 18, 13.7% from 18 to 24, 26.3% from 25 to 44, 16.8% from 45 to 64, and 18.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33. For every 100 females, there were 85.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.4 males.
The median household income was $26,901, and the median family income was $35,212. Males had a median income of $27,677 versus $21,217 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,744. About 11.8% of families and 17.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.5% of those under age 18 and 16.0% of those age 65 or over.
Arts and culture
The Brainerd Lakes Area has a classical music festival during the summers called Lakes Area Music Festival. According to its website, the festival's mission is to connect the nation’s best performers and audiences through excellent classical music and inspiring education. There are educational programs for children in the area with musicians from across the world and high-caliber concerts that are free to the public. The Lakes Area Music Festival, through its Outreach initiative, brings classical music into areas that normally do not get concerts.
Among these are public libraries, women’s shelters, and correctional facilities. The program is supported by many local and national organizations, as well as people in the community.
Brainerd Public Schools is the local school district.
Brainerd High School is the local high school.
Radio stations and television channels in the Brainerd Lakes area:
|AM radio stations|
|1270||WWWI||Talk 100||News/Talk||R & J Broadcasting, Inc.|
|1340||KVBR||Brainerd Business Radio||News/Talk||Hubbard Broadcasting|
|1380||KLIZ||1380 The Fan||Sports||Hubbard Broadcasting|
|FM radio stations|
|88.3||KBPN||MPR News||NPR||Minnesota Public Radio|
|CSN International||Christian||CSN International|
|89.3||KOPJ||LifeTalk Radio||Christian||Seventh-day Adventist Church|
|Northern Community Radio||Public radio||Northern Community Radio|
|90.7||KBPR||Classical MPR||Classical||Minnesota Public Radio|
|95.9||WWWI||Cash 95.9||Country/Adult Standard||R & J Broadcasting, Inc.|
|Talk 100||News/Talk||R & J Broadcasting, Inc.|
|100.1||KLKS||Talk 100||News/Talk||R & J Broadcasting, Inc.|
|101.5||KFGI||Skeeter 101-5||Adult Hits||R & J Broadcasting, Inc.|
|102.7||KTIG||The Word||Christian||Minnesota Christian Broadcasters|
|103.5||KUAL||Cool 103.5||Oldies||Hubbard Broadcasting|
|104.3||WZFJ||The Pulse||Christian||Minnesota Christian Broadcasters|
|106.7||WJJY||Adult contemporary||Hubbard Broadcasting|
|107.5||KLIZ||The Power Loon||Classic rock||Hubbard Broadcasting|
|ABC||5 Eyewitness News||16.2
|Fox Television Stations, Inc.|
|First Nations Experience
|Northern Minnesota Public Television, Inc.|
The following routes are in the Brainerd area:
- Minnesota State Highway 18
- Minnesota State Highway 25
- Minnesota State Highway 210
- Minnesota State Highway 371
- Solomon Flagg Alderman (1861-1928), Minnesota state senator and lawyer
- John Carlton Atherton (1900–1952), artist
- Roger Awsumb (1928–2002), TV and radio show host
- Win Borden (1943–2014), Minnesota state senator
- Bullet Joe Bush (1892–1974), member of the New York Yankees' first World Series championship team in 1923
- Franklin E. Ebner, Minnesota state senator and lawyer
- Joe Haeg (born 1993), professional football player
- Frank B. Johnson (1894–1949), mayor of Brainerd and Minnesota state representative
- Brock Larson (born 1977), MMA fighter
- Charles Marohn (born 1973), author and founder of Strong Towns
- Rick Nolan (born 1943), U.S. Representative
- Hilding Alfred Swanson (1885–1964), Minnesota state legislator and lawyer
- Dale Walz (born 1964), Minnesota state representative and police officer
In popular culture
- "History Notes". The City of Brainerd. Retrieved December 21, 2022.
- "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 24, 2022.
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Brainerd, Minnesota
- "Explore Census Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 21, 2022.
- "City and Town Population Totals: 2020-2021". United States Census Bureau. August 2, 2022. Retrieved December 21, 2022.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
- "For Pete's sake, 'Fargo' is overrated". Brainerd Dispatch. March 16, 2006. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
- Upham, Warren (1920). Minnesota Geographic Names: Their Origin and Historic Significance. Minnesota Historical Society. p. 156.
- "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on January 25, 2012. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
- "NowData – NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 23, 2021.
- "Station: Brainerd, MN". U.S. Climate Normals 2020: U.S. Monthly Climate Normals (1991-2020). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 23, 2021.
- "Burlington Northern (Brainerd/Baxter) Fact Sheet" Archived December 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, EPA, July 13, 2012
- United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved July 14, 2014.
- "2020 Decennial Census: Brainerd city, Minnesota". data.census.gov. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
- "Lakes Area Music Festival". Lakes Area Music Festival Website. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
- "Lakes Area Music Festival". Lakes Area Music Festival Sponsors. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
- Minnesota Legislatorrs: Past & Present-Solomon Flaff Alderman
- "Borden, Winston W. "Win"". state.mn.us. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
- Minnesota Legislators: Past & Present=Franklin E. Ebner
- "Johnson, Frank B." state.mn.us. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
- Minnesota Lehislators: Past & Present-Hilding Alfred Swanson
- Minnesota Legislators: Past & Present-Dale Walz