Elk River (Minnesota)

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This article is about the river in Minnesota. For the city in Minnesota, see Elk River, Minnesota. For other places and features named Elk River, see Elk River (disambiguation).
The Elk River in Benton County in 2004

The Elk River is an 84.0-mile-long (135.2 km)[1] river in east-central Minnesota in the United States.[2] It is a tributary of the Mississippi River, draining a watershed of 630 square miles (1,600 km2).[3]


The Elk River rises in northern Benton County, Minnesota and initially flows generally southward. In Sherburne County the river turns southeastward, paralleling the Mississippi River for the remainder of its course, past the communities of Becker and Big Lake.[4] In his 1843 map of the Upper Mississippi, Joseph Nicollet recorded this river as "Kabitawi R[iver]", reflecting Gaa-biitawi-ziibi ("the parallelling river") in the Ojibwe) due to this parallel course with the Mississippi.[5] It joins the Mississippi at the city of Elk River, after passing through Orono Lake,[4] which is formed by a municipal hydroelectric dam.[6]


In Sherburne County's Big Lake Township, the Elk collects the St. Francis River and the Snake River;[7] the latter is a minor stream which flows for its entire length in Sherburne County, generally southward through Santiago, Becker and Big Lake Townships in a straightened and channelized course.[4]

See also[edit]

Coordinates: 45°17′53″N 93°34′21″W / 45.2980205°N 93.5724605°W / 45.2980205; -93.5724605[8]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed November 29, 2012
  2. ^ Columbia Gazetteer of North America entry
  3. ^ Renwick, Mary E., and Eden, Susanna (1999). Minnesota Rivers: A Primer. St. Paul: Water Resources Center, College of Natural Resources, University of Minnesota.
  4. ^ a b c DeLorme (1994). Minnesota Atlas & Gazetteer. Yarmouth, Maine: DeLorme. ISBN 0-89933-222-6
  5. ^ Nicollet, Joseph N. (1843). Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River.
  6. ^ Waters, Thomas F. (1977). The Streams and Rivers of Minnesota. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-0960-8
  7. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Snake River
  8. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Elk River