Bemidji in 1947

1947mapBemidji’s 1947 Planning Board document, prepared by Evert, Kincaid, and Dean of Chicago, introduces the city as a “prospering community built along the shores of beautiful Lake Bemidji and Lake Irving.” After briefly mentioning its pioneer history and the timber boom, the introduction says that by 1947, “the community is largely dependent upon agricultural activities of the surrounding region, which is supplemented during the vacation seasons by the tourist trade.”

To encourage tourism, the Planning Board wanted to improve the waterfront. An amphitheater and boat launches were proposed for the “Central Park,” where the Mississippi enters Lake Bemidji, and a beach-house, campground, and docks for the “South Side Park,” on the site of the Crookston Lumber Mill.

It’s also interesting to consider that electricity and city water and sewer services were restricted to a small grid in the center of Bemidji, and that most of the land outside the center of town was considered vacant in 1947.

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Boosting the Cutover District, 1915

On December 9, 1915, the Bemidji Pioneer printed a 44-page “Booster Edition” of the paper while the Northern Minnesota Development Association was holding its annual meeting in the city. Below is the front page of the edition.

The Northern Minnesota lumber boom peaked in 1905, and by 1915 annual lumber production had fallen to half of 1905 levels. Roughly a decade later the boom would be over, when the last remaining large mill, the Crookston mill in Bemidji, closed in 1926. So it’s interesting that only the bottom right corner of the image has any logs. The rest — and the basis of the prosperity the boosters were promoting — was devoted to farming. I’ll have a lot more to say about that, as I continue my research.

B1915-1 copy