Floodwood, Minnesota

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City of Floodwood
Main Street-Floodwood-20120406.jpg
The Catfish Capital of the World
A City for All Seasons
Location of the city of Floodwood within Saint Louis County, Minnesota
Location of the city of Floodwood
within Saint Louis County, Minnesota
Coordinates: 46°55′37″N 92°54′57″W / 46.92694°N 92.91583°W / 46.92694; -92.91583
CountryUnited States
CountySaint Louis
 • MayorDave Denoyer
 • Total1.51 sq mi (3.91 km2)
 • Land1.51 sq mi (3.91 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
1,250 ft (381 m)
 • Total528
 • Estimate 
 • Density345.70/sq mi (133.48/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)218
FIPS code27-21338[4]
GNIS feature ID0661287[5]

Floodwood is a city in Saint Louis County, Minnesota, United States. Population was 528 at the 2010 census.[6]

Originally a logging community, it was a dairy community for most of its history, but could now be best described as a bedroom community, since most of its working population finds employment in nearby Duluth, Grand Rapids, Hibbing and Cloquet. The city describes itself as "The Catfish Capital of the World", a nickname it gave to itself following the introduction of the community's annual Catfish Days festival.

U.S. Highway 2 and State Highway 73 (MN 73) are two of the main routes in Floodwood.


Long before the city of Floodwood existed, its strategic location at the intersection of the East Savanna River with the Saint Louis River made what would later become the city of Floodwood a strategic economic location. The Savanna Portage was a major route for transportation in the southern Arrowhead, but its importance was magnified greatly with the arrival of European fur traders, who used the route to access rich resources of beaver and other fur animals in the upper Mississippi valley. As early as 1679, Europeans were passing by the modern location of Floodwood as they turned from the Saint Louis River to the East Savanna River on their way to the portage.

However, it was not until the late 19th century that homesteads began to appear in the area. In 1889, it was announced that a railroad would pass through the area.[7] This announcement led to a local population boom in anticipation of the opportunities the railroad would bring. In 1890 J. C. Campbell began large-scale logging operations in the area and the C. N. Nelson Lumber Company of Cloquet built a logging railroad in the area (albeit, the logging railroad only operated in the winter - during the summer, the logging operations took advantage of the Saint Louis River to transport timber to mills in Cloquet).

In 1893, the year that local government was first organized, the first Floodwood School building was constructed of logs.[8] The following year, the Nelson Company was purchased by what would, six years later, become the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company, continuing the intensification of logging activities in the area. The community continued to grow and, in 1899, was finally incorporated.

By the time the 1900 United States Census was conducted, Floodwood had a population of 224, which, within the next 10 years, more than doubled to 481.[9] In 1911, the Floodwood School, which had previously been a county school, became Independent School District No. 19 (after 1958, Independent School District 698), and a new, six room, brick building was built for it. The community continued to grow until the 1918 Cloquet Fire nearly ended the city's history.

Floodwood, like most of its neighbors, survived the fire and began a slow recovery. However, the practical importance of the rivers, and thus Floodwood's greatest economic resource, ended. By 1926, the era of large-scale timber operations in the area had come to a close. With the logging operations gone, Floodwood's survival was again in peril.

The solution had already been present since 1911: as the surrounding areas had pastures suitable for supporting dairy cattle, the focus of the community's economy turned to dairy production following the exit of the timber companies. In 1911, the Floodwood Creamery Cooperative was organized. The creamery became the main support of the local economy, selling local dairy products across the world until it closed in the late 1960s. Dairy cattle are still a major part of the local economy.

The 1970 Census showed, for the first time since 1920, that Floodwood's population had decreased. This began a trend that has endured to the present - the last time a census showed an increase in Floodwood's population was in 1960.


Floodwood water tower

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.42 square miles (3.68 km2), all of it land.[10]

Floodwood sits at the junction of U.S. Highway 2 and Minnesota State Highway 73. It is roughly halfway between Duluth and Grand Rapids along U.S. Highway 2, as well as roughly halfway between Hibbing and Moose Lake along State Highway 73. Also nearby is the city of Cloquet.

Floodwood is 46 miles (74 km) northwest of Duluth and 37 miles (60 km) southeast of Grand Rapids. Floodwood is 33 miles (53 km) northwest of Cloquet and 40 miles (64 km) south of Hibbing.

The city sits at the junctions of the Floodwood River and the East Savanna River with the Saint Louis River. The area surrounding the city largely comprises forests, wetlands and, where the conditions permit, dairy farms. Nearby peat bogs employ many people from Floodwood, Meadowlands and other communities in southwest Saint Louis County. Protected areas near Floodwood include Savanna Portage State Park, the Savanna State Forest and the Floodwood Game Reserve. The Savanna Portage, together with the three rivers that meet in the city, contributes much to local culture.


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)522[3]−1.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 528 people, 257 households, and 118 families living in the city. The population density was 371.8 inhabitants per square mile (143.6/km2). There were 292 housing units at an average density of 205.6 per square mile (79.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.9% White, 0.8% African American, 0.6% Native American, 0.4% from other races, and 4.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.1% of the population.

There were 257 households, of which 23.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.0% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 54.1% were non-families. 47.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 21.4% 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 2.92.

The median age in the city was 40.9 years. 21.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.8% were from 25 to 44; 24.5% were from 45 to 64; and 20.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 50.4% male and 49.6% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census of 2000,[4] there were 503 people (as of 2009, it was estimated to have 530[11]), 254 households, and 112 families living in the city. The population density was 1,131.9 people per square mile (441.4/km2). There were 290 housing units at an average density of 652.6 per square mile (254.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.22% White, 0.99% Native American, 0.20% Asian, and 1.59% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.80% of the population. 48.5% were of Finnish, 18.5% German, 6.5% Swedish and 5.9% Polish ancestry.

There were 254 households, out of which 22.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.7% were married couples living together, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 55.9% were non-families. 49.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 26.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.98 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 23.7% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 26.0% from 25 to 44, 16.9% from 45 to 64, and 24.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $18,977, and the median income for a family was $30,833. Males had a median income of $30,179 versus $19,375 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,649. About 12.0% of families and 19.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.9% of those under age 18 and 25.4% of those age 65 or over.


The most common industries for the men of Floodwood to be employed in are construction (30%), agriculture (10%), wood products (7%), building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (5%), truck transportation (5%), educational services (5%) and public administration (4%). For the women of Floodwood, the most common industries are accommodation and food services (20%), health care (18%), educational services (12%), food and beverage stores (10%), public administration (8%), social assistance (5%) and food (4%).[12]

The largest employers in the Floodwood area include Floodwood School, Mat, Inc. (a Floodwood-based company that specializes in erosion control products), Floodwood Services and Training, Northview Bank (based in Finlayson, with a branch in Floodwood as well as other locations), the City of Floodwood, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and the Saint Louis County Highway Department.


Election results from partisan races in Floodwood
Year Office GOP DFL Others
2012 President 24.56% 73.68% 1.76%
US Senator 15.77% 80.63% 3.60%
US Representative 26.43% 72.69% 0.88%
State Senator 22.94% 77.06% 0.00%
State Representative 20.18% 79.82% 0.00%
2010 Governor 23.39% 69.59% 7.02%
US Representative 30.23% 63.37% 6.40%
State Senator 21.56% 78.44% 0.00%
State Representative 23.67% 76.33% 0.00%
2008 President 23.69% 73.49% 2.82%
US Senator 24.51% 66.80% 8.70%
US Representative 18.80% 81.20% 0.00%
State Representative 21.54% 78.46% 0.00%
2006 Governor 23.70% 73.46% 2.84%
US Senator 18.87% 78.77% 2.36%
US Representative 20.10% 78.47% 1.44%
State Senator 20.57% 79.43% 0.00%
State Representative 19.14% 80.86% 0.00%
2004 President 32.48% 67.52% 0.00%
US Representative 22.48% 77.13% 0.39%
State Representative 21.56% 76.21% 2.23%
2002 Governor 23.11% 69.75% 7.14%
US Senator 23.36% 72.95% 3.69%
US Representative 18.41% 81.59% 0.00%
State Senator 19.57% 80.43% 0.00%
State Representative 20.17% 79.83% 0.00%
2000 President 30.20% 69.39% 0.41%
US Senator 31.85% 65.32% 2.83%
US Representative 17.60% 80.40% 2.00%
State Senator 0.00% 65.25% 34.75%
State Representative 23.98% 76.02% 0.00%

The city of Floodwood has a mayor-council government and operates under the provisions of state statutes concerning city government (which is true for any city in Minnesota that has not obtained a home-rule charter). The current mayor of Floodwood is Dave Denoyer,[13] who presides over meetings of the city council. The position of City Administrator, created in 2002 to handle the day-to-day operations of the city's administration, is currently held by Jess Rich.

Floodwood, like the rest of Saint Louis County and neighboring Carlton County, was, prior to the 1960s, part of a strong area for co-operative economics, having a strong worker cooperative (in the form of the Floodwood Creamery Cooperative), a farmers' cooperative and a credit union; today all that remains of the cooperative past in Floodwood is the credit union. During the 1930s, this tendency toward cooperative economics led Saint Louis County in general to be a major stronghold of the Farmer-Labor Party,[14] which aimed to create a cooperative commonwealth in Minnesota. When the Farmer-Labor Party merged with the Minnesota Democratic Party, the area became a stronghold for the resultant Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL).

For sixty-four years, beginning with the 1947 election of John Blatnik, the area had been constantly represented by Democrats in the United States House of Representatives. This streak was broken with the seating of Republican Chip Cravaack, after his upset victory of over the normally popular Democratic incumbent Jim Oberstar in the 2010 Congressional election. Floodwood is part of Minnesota's 8th congressional district, having previously been represented by Oberstar in Congress since 1975. In the 2012 Congressional election, Democratic challenger Rick Nolan defeated Cravaack, taking the seat back for the DFL. In every recent partisan election (President, Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Auditor, State Treasurer, US Senate, US House, State Senate and State House), Floodwood has given a substantial majority, usually a supermajority, of its votes to the Democratic or DFL candidate. In the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama won the city with 73.49% of the vote to John McCain's 23.69%.[15] Floodwood is also part of Minnesota House District 6A, which is represented by Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing); and Minnesota Senate District 6, which is represented by Dave Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm).

In May 2009, when city leaders from throughout Minnesota made the trek to the State Capitol, Mayor Kletscher made statewide news when he made the comment "My toolbox is empty. We've been facing this for years. We're a very poor city and we can't afford to see tax rates go up."[16] The city leaders were arguing against cuts to state funding for communities in Governor Pawlenty's budget cuts.[17] Kletscher, among others, argued that smaller communities did not have things like libraries that they could close to save funds and that the only way they could continue to function in the face of cuts in state funding would be to raise property taxes, which they did not want to do because residents of these communities are often poor, and they feared the burden would be too much for them to handle.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. ^ "2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File". American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census. Retrieved 23 April 2011.[dead link]
  7. ^ "Floodwood Minnesota Community Guide". A Guide to Minnesota Communities. Lakeweb1 Internet Services. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
  8. ^ "History". Floodwood School ISD 698. Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
  9. ^ "Census Data for Floodwood (City)". University of Minnesota Morris. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
  10. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2012-01-25. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  11. ^ "Minnesota Population and Household Estimates". Minnesota Geospatial Information Office.
  12. ^ "Floodwood, Minnesota". City-Data.com. 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  13. ^ "Government Structure". City of Floodwood. Retrieved 2010-01-19.
  14. ^ O'Connell, Thomas Gerald (1979). "Toward the Cooperative Commonwealth: An Introductory History of the Farmer-Labor Movement in Minnesota". Retrieved 2010-01-19. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ Election Reporting System (December 9, 2008). "Precinct: Floodwood P-1". Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. Archived from the original on February 29, 2012. Retrieved 2010-01-19.
  16. ^ "MAOSC Board Member Floodwood Mayor Jeff Kletscher Makes Statewide News Fighting For Small Cities". Minnesota Association of Small Cities. Retrieved 2010-01-19.
  17. ^ Staff writers and news services (May 17, 2009). "House sustains Pawlenty veto of health care program". Star Tribune. Minneapolis, MN: The Star Tribune Company. Retrieved 2010-01-19.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 46°55′45″N 92°55′11″W / 46.92917°N 92.91972°W / 46.92917; -92.91972