Just west of Kanabec County is the oddly shaped Mille Lacs (pronounced Mill Lacks) County, population 26,097.
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.
In the winter, Mille Lacs Lake has thousands of ice-fishing houses scattered over its 207 square miles.
Father Hennepin State Park, on the south shore of Mille Lacs, has campgrounds and a mile-long sandy beach.
Mille Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, consisting of two small islands totaling half an acre, is the smallest national wildlife refuge in the U.S.
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.
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.
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.
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