Minnesota: Anoka County

Anoka County (pop. 330,844, fourth largest in the state) is just north of Minneapolis and Hennepin County. The county seat is also named Anoka.

The word “Anoka” came from the Dakota word “anokatanhan,” meaning “on both sides of the river” – the river being the Rum River.

The Rum River reaches the Mississippi at Anoka.

The city of Anoka (pop. 17,142) is known as the “Halloween Capital of the World” because of its annual Halloween parades dating back to 1920.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a Republican presidential candidate in 2012, graduated from Anoka High School in 1974.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa

The city of Blaine (pop. 57,186) is home of the National Sports Center. Every summer the Sports Center, with more than 50 soccer fields, hosts Schwan’s USA Cup – the Western Hemisphere’s largest soccer tournament, with about 1,000 teams from around the world.

Velodrome in foreground

The National Sports Center also has the Schwan Super Rink; with eight separate ice rinks under one roof, it’s the largest such facility in the world.

Home ice of the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team

The city of Hilltop (pop. 744) is surrounded by the city of Columbia Heights (pop. 19,496). Hilltop consists almost entirely of four trailer parks, containing about 263 mobile homes.

Hilltop City Hall

Fridley (pop. 27,208) is the home of Medtronic, Inc., the world’s largest medical technology company.

A Medtronic pacemaker

Circle Pines (pop. 4,918) was established in 1946 as a planned cooperative community, with homeowners owning equal shares in the association that owned and developed it. Circle Pines was incorporated as a city in 1974.

Golden Lake Beach, Circle Pines, in 1950

The town of Nowthen (pop. 4,443) apparently got its name from its first postmaster, who was in the habit of saying “Now, then” in conversation.