History of Lake of the Woods County

Additional Settlements

Early 1900's HomesteadAfter recovering from the fire, the county area experienced another settlement boom. Within the decade following 1910, nearly every 100 acre plot was claimed.

The new arrivals pushed settlement into the interior of the county, moving further from the railroad and the waterways. Bankton, Lovedale, Pilgrim Hall, Faunce, Hiwood Dutchie and Clover Point were a few of the post office communities that appeared in the newly settled regions. The wilderness trails that wind through the southern half of the county pass by the sites of these former villages and farms which have all been reclaimed by nature.

Judicial Ditches of 1912Much of the land that the settlers claimed was low and wet but an elaborate scheme to drain these regions was put into action. Beginning in 1912, dredges began digging their way across the swampy areas, excavating the Judicial Ditches that were supposed to leave the land dry and suitable for farming. The plan failed however and eventually many of the parcels were abandoned. Taxes for the ditches became delinquent and the county was forced to default on the loan it had received for the ditch work. The State of Minnesota eventually took up these payments and acquired title to the lands, thus creating the Beltrami Island State Forest.

Becoming a County

Local residents were dissatisfied with the services they received from Beltrami County compared to the amount of tax dollars they paid. Being on the fringe of the large county, they felt they were often short-changed. The distance between the northern townships and the county seat at Bemidji and the difficulty in making the two or three day trip to Bemidji by train through Crookston or International Falls contributed to this feeling. In November of 1922, the vote for separation carried. The first years for the new county would be difficult ones. A small population and a depression in the local economy combined to cause financial problems from the start.

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