The Cass County Historical Society has selected the best images from its extensive photographic archives and called on its historians Renee Geving and Cecelia McKeig to share some of the historical facts. Longtime residents of the county, this research team has written several other books on local communities.
Cass Countyby Cass County Historical Society
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In 1849, the Leech Lake Agency for the Ojibwa peoples was established southwest of Agency Bay on Leech Lake. A government trail wound its way north through the wilderness from Fort Ripley to the agency. The establishment of this trail encouraged exploration and settlement of the area that became Cass County. Fur traders, explorers, and missionaries were followed by the lumber industry. The Ojibwas ceded their lands, which went up for public auction in the 1870s, and the logging companies purchased thousands of acres of these lands. By 1895, the Minnesota Logging Company was in the northern part of the county and built the Brainerd, Northern and Minnesota Railroad, which was sold to the Minnesota and International, which was the first railroad in Cass County. Small towns were platted out by town site companies and quickly settled by immigrants and others seeking new opportunities. Cass County presently has 15 villages and 50 townships. Tourism was first introduced into the county when a trainload of 300 tourists from St. Cloud arrived for a weekend of fishing on Leech Lake. Tourism is the county’s number one industry today.
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