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Forest Lake

Forest Lake
Forest Lake, Minnesota
Official seal of Forest Lake


Forest Lake began as a stop for the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad. The first train reached Forest Lake on December 23, 1868. The lake was so named for the abundant timber that lines its shores. Forest Lake Township was organized on March 11, 1874; The first one-room school was built that same year, which stood at the present day location of city hall. The city of Forest Lake was incorporated on July 11, 1893 with 175 residents. In 2001, the city annexed the surrounding former Forest Lake Township.

Forest Lake was known as one of the major summer resort areas of the upper Midwest in the late 1800s/early 1900s. The village had numerous hotels, including the Marsh Hotel, on North Shore Drive, which was host to U.S. President Grover Cleveland and future U.S. President William McKinley, as well as many world dignitaries. The steamship Germania sailed the Forest Lake chain of lakes in the late 1800s, and was a major tourist draw.

Forest Lake is the birthplace of Log Cabin Syrup. Grocer Patrick J. Towle, who founded the company, lived in Forest Lake at the time.

Minnesota’s first Boy Scout troop was formed in Forest Lake in July 1910. This was one of the first officially chartered Boy Scout troops in the United States.[citation needed]

President William Howard Taft had Forest Lake as one of his final two choices for his 1911 summer residence.[citation needed]

Forest Lake was home to such gangsters as Ma Barker and Bugs Moran in the early 1930s. Barker lived in a cabin behind Lake Street, while Moran lived on North Shore Drive.

Brothers Eddie and Roy Shipstad, founders of the Ice Follies, the first touring ice skating show, were residents of Forest Lake for much of their lives. Many early Ice Follies skaters came from Forest Lake.[citation needed]

The original 1940s manufacturing site for the Toni Home Permanent was a former one-room schoolhouse located at Garen, Minnesota, off Highway 61, just south of Forest Lake. It was destroyed by fire in February 1951.[citation needed]

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s Forest Lake was known as the turkey capital of the world. The official national Thanksgiving turkey for President Harry S. Truman at the White House came from Forest Lake in 1946 and 1948.[citation needed]


Forest Lake is a city in Washington County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 18,375 at the 2010 census. It is located on one of Minnesota’s 100 largest lakes. The lake serves as the source of the Sunrise River.

Interstate 35 and U.S. Highways 8 and 61 are three of the main routes in the community.

Other main routes include County Road 2-Broadway Avenue. Interstate 35 splits into Interstate Highways 35E and 35W just south of Forest Lake in the nearby city of Columbus. The junction is commonly referred to as the Forest Lake Split. The Forest Lake Split was the scene of the August 11, 2003 death of Herb Brooks, coach of the gold medal-winning 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team (Miracle on Ice).


Forest Lake is squarely bound between the north-south lines formed by Lyons Street NE and Keystone Avenue North, and the east-west lines formed by 240th Street North and 180th Street North. Interstate 35 and U.S. Highways 8 and 61 are three of the main routes in Forest Lake.

Other main routes include County Road 2-Broadway Avenue.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 35.54 square miles (92.05 km2); 30.56 square miles (79.15 km2) is land and 4.98 square miles (12.90 km2) is water.


Forest Lake has a high population of northern pike, largemouth bass, walleye, and many pan fish (blugill, crappie, and perch). It also holds muskie, while the numbers are relatively low, the average size is becoming quite large, making for a trophy fishery. The city hosts an annual ice fishing tournament known as Fishapalooza. Forest Lake was known as the bass capital of Minnesota during the 1960s and 1970s, with the official Minnesota bass opener taking place at Forest Lake several times.

The ice fishing contests held on Forest Lake in the mid-1990s were reported to be the largest in the country.

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