Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, was incorporated in 1871 as the village of Detroit. Detroit became a boomtown in the late 19th century because of the vast supply of timber that dominated the landscape of northwest Minnesota at the time. The population grew by leaps and bounds, and by 1900 the census recorded 2,060 residents.
In 1926, the US Postal Service officially changed the town’s name to Detroit Lakes in order to avoid confusion with Detroit, Michigan. The lush landscape of lakes and rivers created a natural vacation destination, and tourism pioneers like John K. West began to market to the newly moneyed industrialists of the Gilded Age, promising steamboat transportation and boardwalks to the shoreline.
Today, Detroit Lakes remains a vibrant city with thriving resort and business communities. It is the heart of lakes country and continues to provide a welcoming atmosphere for visitors and residents alike.
Highlights of Detroit Lakes:
• A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book helps to support the efforts of the Becker County Historical Society and Museum to keep history alive in Becker County.
• All photos included were donated by private citizens or companies in the Detroit Lakes area to the collection of the Becker County Historical Society.
• The Standard Oil Station was dubbed “The World’s Smallest Gas Station” by Robert Ripley in his column Believe It or Not.
In 1882, the Pioneer Settlers Union was established by the early pioneers of this area to preserve the history of their communities. In 1924, the organization was renamed the Becker County Historical Society, which started the Becker County Museum in 1943. The Becker County Historical Society continues to promote and archive local history as it happens today.
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