Business View Magazine | November 2019

334 BUSINESS VIEW MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2019 AT A GLANCE ELK RIVER, MINNESOTA WHAT: A city of 25,000 WHERE: Sherburne County, Minnesota, northwest of Minneapolis WEBSITE: E lk River is a city in Sherburne County, Minnesota, situated at the confluence of the Mississippi and Elk Rivers, about 34 miles northwest of Minneapolis. The Elk River was named by Zebulon Pike, after the herds of elk he saw in the area, during his 1805 exploration of the upper Mississippi River. In 1846, David Frederic Faribault, son of French-Canadian fur trader, Jean- Baptiste Faribault, built a trading post near the conjunction of the Elk and Mississippi Rivers, which he sold, in 1848, to French trader and guide, Pierre Bottineau. The trading post stood on a bluff just east of the present day bridge across the Elk River on Main Street. Bottineau also built a hotel in 1850 on the banks of the Mississippi, about a half mile below the mouth of the Elk. Early settlers from Maine soon came to the area, many of whom were expert lumbermen. In 1851, Ard Godfrey, a native of Orono, Maine, saw the potential for water power of the Elk River and built a dam and a sawmill. His dam created the first lobe of Lake Orono (called the Mill Pond), which extended from the present day dam to Orono Cemetery Point. In 1855, the area by the dam was platted and the Town of Orono (known as Upper Town) was created. The Village of Elk River was platted in 1865, replatted in 1868, and, when incorporated in the winter of 1880-1881, included both Orono and Elk River. By 1870, Elk River’s population had swelled to 2,050 and in 1872, it became the county seat. Around this same time, the railroads replaced the rivers as the main focus of transportation, and the Lower Town (the present-day, historic downtown area) replaced Upper Town as the center of commerce. In the latter half of the 19th century, agriculture and dairy farming replaced lumber as the base of Elk River’s economy. And because the hardwood-forested hills in which the city is situated are made up of coarse materials, gravel mining was also prevalent in the area. Grist mills and a starch factory, which took advantage of P O W E R E D B Y N A T U R E