St. Louis County, Minnesota

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Saint Louis County, Minnesota
Saint Louis County Courthouse
Map of Minnesota highlighting Saint Louis County
Location in the U.S. state of Minnesota
Map of the United States highlighting Minnesota
Minnesota's location in the U.S.
Founded February 20, 1855[1]
Named for Saint Louis River[2]
Seat Duluth
Largest city Duluth
 • Total 6,860 sq mi (17,767 km2)
 • Land 6,247 sq mi (16,180 km2)
 • Water 612 sq mi (1,585 km2), 8.9%
Population (est.)
 • (2015) 200,431
 • Density 32/sq mi (12/km²)
Congressional district 8th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Saint Louis County (abbreviated St. Louis County) is a county located in the northeastern part of the U.S. state of Minnesota. As of the 2010 census, the population was 200,226.[3] Its county seat is Duluth. It is the largest county by total area in Minnesota, and the largest in the United States east of the Mississippi River.[4]

Saint Louis County is included in the Duluth, MN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Major industries include pulpwood production and tourism. Surface mining of high-grade iron-ore remains an important part of the economy of the Iron Range. Parts of the federally recognized Bois Forte and Fond du Lac Indian reservations are in the county.


This area was long inhabited by Algonquian-speaking tribes: the Ojibwe (Chippewa), Ottawa and Potawatomi peoples were loosely affiliated in the Council of Three Fires. As European-American settlers entered the territory, the Native Americans were pushed to outer areas.

Saint Louis County was founded by European Americans on February 20, 1855, as Doty County, and had its name changed to Newton County on March 3, 1855. It originally consisted of the area east and south of the Saint Louis River, while the area east of the Vermilion River and north of the Saint Louis River was part of Superior County. Superior County was renamed Saint Louis County.

On March 1, 1856, that Saint Louis County was renamed as Lake County. Newton County was renamed as Saint Louis County and had that eastern area added to it; it was also expanded westward by incorporating parts of Itasca County, which then also included most of Carlton County. On May 23, 1857, Saint Louis County took its current shape when Carlton County was formed from parts of Saint Louis and Pine counties.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 6,860 square miles (17,800 km2), of which 6,247 square miles (16,180 km2) is land and 612 square miles (1,590 km2) (8.9%) is water.[5] By area, it is the largest county in Minnesota and the largest in the U.S. east of the Mississippi River.

Saint Louis County is known for its spectacular natural beauty. Voyageurs National Park, established in 1975, is located in its northwestern corner, on the south shore of Rainy Lake on the Canada–US border; it is popular with canoeists, kayakers, other boaters and fishermen. The county also includes parts of Superior National Forest, established in 1909, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on the border, established in 1978. The BWCAW is a 1,090,000-acre (4,400 km2) wilderness area designated for fishing, camping, hiking, and canoeing, and is one of the most visited wilderness areas in the United States. Saint Louis County has more than 500 lakes, including Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan, Sand Point, and Crane lakes. The largest lakes are Pelican and Vermilion.[6]

The "Hill of Three Waters" on the Laurentian Divide lies northeast of Hibbing. Rain falling on this hill runs to three watersheds: Hudson Bay to the north, the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to the east (via Lake Superior), or the Gulf of Mexico to the south and west (via the Mississippi River).[7] The county is drained by the Saint Louis, Vermilion, and other rivers.[6]

Duluth on Lake Superior is one of the most important fresh-water ports in the United States and located in this county.

The county encompasses part of the Iron Range. It has had a significant taconite mining industry, particularly in the city of Virginia.

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected areas[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 406
1870 4,561 1,023.4%
1880 4,504 −1.2%
1890 44,862 896.0%
1900 82,932 84.9%
1910 163,274 96.9%
1920 206,391 26.4%
1930 204,596 −0.9%
1940 206,917 1.1%
1950 206,062 −0.4%
1960 231,588 12.4%
1970 220,693 −4.7%
1980 222,229 0.7%
1990 198,213 −10.8%
2000 200,528 1.2%
2010 200,226 −0.2%
Est. 2015 200,431 [8] 0.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]
1790-1960[10] 1900-1990[11]
1990-2000[12] 2010-2015[3]
Age pyramid of county residents based on 2000 U.S. census data

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 200,226 people residing in the county. 94.0% were White, 2.2% Native American, 0.4% Black or African American, 0.9% Asian, 0.2% of some other race and 2.3% of two or more races. 1.2% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race). 18.4% of the residents identified as being of German, 11.2% as Norwegian, 10.6% Finnish, 9.0% Swedish and 6.1% as being of Irish ancestry.[13]

As of the census of 2000, there were 200,528 people, 82,619 households, and 51,389 families residing in the county. The population density was 32 people per square mile (12/km²). There were 95,800 housing units at an average density of 15 per square mile (6/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 94.86% White, 0.85% Black or African American, 2.03% Native American, 0.66% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.22% from other races, and 1.35% from two or more races. 0.80% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 17.0% were of German, 13.7% Norwegian, 12.1% Finnish, 9.7% Swedish, 6.0% Irish, and 5.3% Italian ancestry.

27.60% of households included children under the age of 18, 49.30% were married couples living together, 9.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.80% were non-families. 31.20% of all households consisted of individuals and 13.00% of individuals 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.90.

The population spread by age was 22.40% under the age of 18, 11.40% from 18 to 24, 25.90% from 25 to 44, 24.30% from 45 to 64, and 16.10% 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 93.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $36,306, and the median income for a family was $47,134. Males had a median income of $37,934 versus $24,235 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,982. About 7.20% of families and 12.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.10% of those under age 18 and 8.90% of those age 65 or over.


Like all counties in Minnesota, Saint Louis County is governed by an elected and nonpartisan board of commissioners. In Minnesota, county commissions usually have five members, but Saint Louis, Hennepin, and Ramsey counties each have seven members. Each commissioner represents a single-member district of equal population.

The county commission elects a chair who presides at meetings.

Commissioners as of January 2015:

District Commissioner In office since Current term expires
1st Frank Jewell 2011 January 7, 2019
2nd Patrick Boyle 2014 January 3, 2017
3rd Chris Dahlberg 2009 January 3, 2017
4th Tom Rukavina 2015 January 7, 2019
5th Pete Stauber (chair) 2013 January 3, 2017
6th Keith Nelson 2003 January 7, 2019
7th Steve Raukar 1989 January 7, 2019


Election results from statewide races[14]
Year Office GOP DEM Others
2010 Governor 28.6% 61.8% 8.3%
2008 President 32.6% 65.1% 2.3%
Senator 32.4% 54.6% 13.0%
2006 Governor 29.3% 64.6% 6.1%
Senator 25.9% 70.9% 3.2%
2004 President 33.6% 65.2% 1.2%
2002 Governor 26.5% 59.9% 13.6%
Senator 31.6% 65.4% 3.0%
2000 President 33.0% 59.8% 7.2%
Senator 31.7% 63.3% 5.0%
1998 Governor 28.1% 47.3% 24.6%
1996 President 25.5% 60.6% 13.9%
Senator 28.5% 64.7% 6.8%
1994 Governor 44.6% 53.0% 2.4%
Senator 35.9% 56.9% 7.2%
1992 President 22.6% 56.8% 20.6%

In 2007, Saint Louis County considered doing a study about dividing into two counties. This plan was abandoned.[15]

This county is one of the most reliably Democratic counties in the state, as no Republican or independent candidate has won this county in any statewide election since 1992. The only time a Democrat obtained less than 50% of the vote was in 1998, when Jesse Ventura of the Reform ticket won statewide; some 24% of the county voted for him. Since 1992, the only time when a Republican obtained more than 34% of the vote was in the elections of 1994 (year of Republican Revolution) when the incumbent Independent-Republican governor won the statewide vote by a landslide of more than 60%, and when the Independent-Republican senatorial candidate won election with 49% statewide, both of which are rare occurrences in Minnesota.

Presidential elections[edit]

Democrats have swept Saint Louis County in the last 20 consecutive presidential elections. The last Republican candidate to carry the county was Herbert Hoover in 1928, before the Great Depression.[16] In recent elections, Republicans have received about 1/3rd of the county's vote. In 2016, Donald Trump earned 39.7% of the county's vote, while the Democrat vote deteriorated to 51.4%; according to exit polls, this was due to residents' concerns about the decline of mining and forestry in the county. [17]

Presidential Election Results 1996-2016
Year Democratic Republican
2016 51.39% 57,771 39.70% 44,630
2012 63.48% 73,378 33.85% 39,131
2008 65.10% 77,351 32.61% 38,742
2004 65.20% 77,958 33.55% 40,112
2000 59.78% 64,237 32.96% 35,420
1996 60.60% 60,736 25.50% 25,553


Saint Louis County is in Minnesota's 8th congressional district. For many years it was represented by Democrat Jim Oberstar, but in 2010 he was defeated after 36 years by Republican Chip Cravaack. Two years later Cravaack was defeated by Rick Nolan, a member of the Democratic Party, who is the current Representative of the 8th district.




Unorganized territories[edit]

Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Former Census-designated place[edit]

Ghost towns[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Minnesota Place Names". Minnesota Historical Society. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ Chicago and North Western Railway Company (1908). A History of the Origin of the Place Names Connected with the Chicago & North Western and Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railways. p. 164. 
  3. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  4. ^ Duluth News Tribune September 22, 2004, p. 2B. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Arostook County, Maine has a smaller overall area but a greater land area.
  5. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg Ripley, George; Dana, Charles A., eds. (1879). "Saint Louis. I. A N. E. county of Minnesota". The American Cyclopædia. 
  7. ^ "7 km NE of Hibbing, Minnesota, United States 7/1/1983". Microsoft Research Terraserver. USGS. Archived from the original on 25 November 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2011. See USGS map sheet "Hibbing Quadrangle", Minnesota-St. Louis county, 7.5 minute series, the "three-way watershed" marker is located at a spot on the hill about 375 meters south of the truck shop on the property of Hibbing Taconite Iron ore mining company. 
  8. ^ "County Totals Dataset: Population, Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016. 
  9. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  13. ^ "American FactFinder"
  14. ^ Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  15. ^ St. Louis County considers a split | Minnesota Public Radio News. (2007-07-30). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  16. ^ Geographie Electorale
  17. ^ "Hibbing voters tapped GOP Trump change", Minnesota Public Radio News, 9 November 2016

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°35′N 92°28′W / 47.58°N 92.46°W / 47.58; -92.46