Shadows of the Past

Within the borders of Crow Wing State Park are the remnants of Old Crow Wing, one of the most populous towns in Minnesota during the 1850s and 60s.
house

The town was at the confluence of the Crow Wing and Mississippi Rivers which provided easy travel routes and good hunting.
crow wing river

In early years, the region was inhabited by Dakota and there were conflicts with the Ojibwe who eventually gained control over the area.
dusk

By the late 18th century, European fur traders were in the area and a trading post was opened in 1823. The town slowly grew around it.
trees

The economy boomed and three churches were established, the remains of a small cemetery are visible near the site of the Catholic church.
historic cemetery

At its peak, there were between 600-700 residents in the town, approximately half were Ojibwe.
yellow rumped warbler

Clement Beaulieu ran the American Fur Company’s trading post. His home is the oldest standing structure in Minnesota north of St. Anthony Falls and was considered a mansion when it was built in 1849.
beaulieu mansion

But the success of the town came to a quick end.
robin

In 1868, the Ojibwe were relocated to the White Earth Indian Reservation. And in 1871, railroad magnate James J. Hill decided to route his Northern Pacific Railroad over the Mississippi in Brainerd, 10 miles north of Old Crowing.
boardwalk

Most of the town’s residents had moved on by 1880.
sun through trees

Today, Crow Wing State Park is on the National Register of Historic Places.

mississippi river
“Before him flowed the majestic Mississippi River, opening a delightful vista of sparkling waters, and romantic wooded shores far below, while above on a graceful bend of the river, picturesque little cottages peered out from shady nooks. A birch canoe was drawn up on the shore where he stood and another was swiftly gliding past the bank of the pretty island opposite.” – A description of the town of Crow Wing, published in Harper’s Magazine in 1858

 

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