Minnesota: Mille Lacs County

Just west of Kanabec County is the oddly shaped Mille Lacs (pronounced Mill Lacks) County, population 26,097.

A capital T?

The county is named for Mille Lacs (“thousand lakes” in French) Lake, which is the second largest lake in Minnesota, after the combined Red Lakes.

One of Minnesota’s premier fishing lakes

In the winter, Mille Lacs Lake has thousands of ice-fishing houses scattered over its 207 square miles.

All the comforts of home

Father Hennepin State Park, on the south shore of Mille Lacs, has campgrounds and a mile-long sandy beach.

Named for the French missionary and explorer

Mille Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, consisting of two small islands totaling half an acre, is the smallest national wildlife refuge in the U.S.

Breeding habitat for several bird species

The town of Milaca (pop. 2,946), the county seat, is at the intersection of two important highways: U.S. 169, between Mille Lacs Lake and the Twin Cities, and State 23, between the St. Cloud area and Duluth.

The Milaca City Hall was built in 1936 (of stone, brick, and concrete) by the Works Projects Administration.

In the Streamline Moderne style

Milaca is on the Rum River. The river got its name as a result of a mistranslation of a Dakota word that meant “spirit” as in “spiritual”; the translation into English came out “spirit” as in alcohol.

A rum barrel

Princeton (pop. 4,698) is the largest city in Mille Lacs County. Its former Great Northern Depot is now a museum run by the Mille Lacs County Historical Society.

Built in 1902

NEXT: MORRISON COUNTY

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2 comments on “Minnesota: Mille Lacs County

  1. John Dodds says:

    Nice post, that bit about the Rum River is funny. I wonder how they picked rum from spirit.

  2. Mary Schlick says:

    When i was a kid, our dad told me that one of the boats he bought for Rainy Lake had been used by “rum runners” on the Mississippi, and our cousin Isla’s husband worked for the Rum River Lumber Company in Princeton. I figured that rum must have been a big deal up there in the wild north.

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