History Notes

  • The Brainerd area was once a dense pine forest that served the Chippewa Indians as hunting grounds and blueberry fields.
  • The area that would become Brainerd was first seen by white men on Christmas Day, 1805.   US Army Lieutenant Zebulon Pike, camped in the area for a day of rest and relaxation while exploring the source of the Mississippi River.
  • The first settlers had wanted the name to be "Ocamacua," Indian word for "The Crossing."
  • On September 19, 1871, the plat was signed and on September 25, 1871, it was filed for record in Crow Wing County. The name on the plat was "Brainerd." The City was incorporated on November 19, 1881.
  • The plat showed a square, two blocks long on each side in the center of town. It was marked "Gregory Square."
  • At the time, the president of the railroad company was John Gregory Smith. His wife was Anne Eliza Brainerd Smith. Since Mr. Smith objected to the proposed town names of "Smithville" and "Smithton," his wife's maiden name was chosen for the town name and Mr. Smith's middle name was chosen for the town square.
  • January 11, 1873 - The first meeting of the city council.
  • March 6, 1873 - Brainerd was organized as a city.
  • January 11, 1876 - The Minnesota state legislature revoked Brainerd's charter for 6 years
  • North/South streets were given numerical identification and East/West streets an alphabetical sequence of familiar tree names.
  • The historic water tower was built in less than a year and the entire city water system was constructed over 4 years, from 1919-1922. The base of the tower was constructed in the fall of 1919 and the bowl was poured in May of 1920.  It was filled with water in October of 1920.  The water tower was the first all concrete elevated tank used by a municipality in the United States. The tower held 300,000 gallons of water drawn from three wells. The tower served until 1958 when a new 1 million gallon tower was constructed. The old tower was drained in 1960. It was added to the State Inventory of Historic Sites in 1972.

        Construction photos of the historic water tower

        For more information about Brainerd see: Wikipedia: Brainerd, Minnesota