About Maple Lake

Minnesota, established as a territory in 1849, had nine counties and 6,077 population by 1850. In 1851, under the Treaties of Traverse Des Sioux, the federal government bought this territory. In 1854, the land was surveyed.  On February 20, 1855, Wright County was created.  The county is named after Silas Wright, a politician from Orange County, New York.  Organization of the county administration, surveying, school districts, and road construction made up much of the first year’s business for the county commissioners.   In 1858, Minnesota became the 32nd state in the Union.

The name “Minnesota” is from the Dakota word minisota meaning “sky-tinted waters.” Minnesota was home to the Ojibwa (Chippewa) and Dakota (Sioux) long before European settlement. The first European to explore the Mississippi River Valley was Father Louis Hennepin. In 1680 his travels led him to St. Anthony Falls where Minneapolis was later founded. Minnesota was claimed at various times by France, Spain, England, and finally by the United States. The first American to explore the area was Zebulon Pike, in 1805. Pike visited the fur trading posts throughout the region and formally claimed the land for the United States. He obtained a tract of land from the Indians at the fork of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. It became the site of Fort Snelling, which was built in 1819 as a western outpost protecting the Mississippi River. Other posts were later established by trappers, traders, missionaries, and soldiers, however it was not until lumbermen arrived in the 1830s that settlers began to come into the region.

Maple Lake is situated in a part of central Minnesota once inhabited by the Chippewa Indians. In 1855 the Government revoked the treaty with the Winnebago and opened up Wright County for non-Indian settlers The history of the city of Maple Lake begins in the mid 1850’s. Early maps of Wright County illustrate a number of villages which included a city labeled “Geneva” located on the northwest shore on Maple Lake. Early pioneers came to Maple Lake to farm but, in 1857, C. H. Hackett surveyed a 200 plat and named it “Geneva”. The 1857 severe depression caused a financial panic which resulted in failure of the development of the city of “Geneva”. The city of “Geneva” never materialized but the town site of Maple Lake was established in 1858 with the establishment of a mail site.

The Irish migrating from Clare County Ireland began to influx into Maple Lake in the late 1850’s and early 1860’s. With this early group of Irish immigrants, came Patrick O’Loughlin Sr. who would become the pioneer founder of the present day village of Maple Lake. O’Loughlin saw the establishment of the village but his son-in-law, James Madigan, platted the village of Maple Lake in 1886 and began to sell lots in 1887. The first lots were sold to John Roehrenbach who opened a dry goods and groceries store on a street known as “Easy Street”. Today this site is the location of the Maple Lake City Hall. Other businesses were developed in 1888. The development of the city spurred the development of farming, the expansion of the “Soo Line” railroad through the city as well as the opening of an elevator in 1889.

Rumors of the incorporation of the village of Maple Lake surfaced in 1888 but the actual incorporation was completed in 1890. Following the incorporation, Martin O’Loughlin was elected to serve as Mayor and the village began developing ordinances in January 1891. The first ordinance passed by the council was the establishment of the city seal.

Education for the children of the Maple Lake area began in 1866 with the construction on a one room log structure in then District #28. District #104 for the village of Maple Lake emerged in 1882 from District #28. In 1892, the village school was relocated to the center of the village and a new building was constructed. In 1898, the school building was doubled, in 1907, this building was abandoned, a new site was selected and a building was constructed. The former site now serves as the site of the current fire station. In 1991, the 1907 school was abandoned and demolished and a new school complex was built in northeast Maple Lake.

The 1890’s brought the growth in the number of businesses, establishment of a school as well as in the number of businesses burned down by fire. In 1896, the Maple Lake Cooperative Dairy Association was formed for farmers dairy products. Early Maple Lake was established as a center for wood milling and related wood products.

The turn of the century brought the continued development of businesses and the flourishing of farming. In 1900, the business district was taking shape but changed by fire. One of the businesses that burned in 1900 was the Jude Hotel. The turn of the century also brought the development of streets, construction of sidewalks from the business district to the railroad depot and other civic improvements. The village council paid $1,000 for land to build a community park and today this site is the central park.

1903 brought the construction of street lights. In 1906, Security State Bank opened. The 1910’s brought the construction of a water tower, water mains and sewers; the arrival of the first car; and, the “Spanish Influenza” which caused epidemic death. The 1920’s brought the opening of the Maple Lake Garage and the Maple Lake Pavilion.

The 1930’s brought the donation of land by the Maple Lake Improvement Club to entice the construction of a power plant by United Power Association and the headquarters of Wright-Hennepin Electrical Cooperative. The 1930’s also brought the paving of Olson Memorial Highway (Minnesota State Highway 55). Baseball was the primary form of entertainment for the people of Maple Lake in the 1930’s.

The 1940’s events include the “Armistice Day” blizzard on November 11, 1940; the tornado of 1942 that damaged or destroyed many downtown buildings; the passing of the “old guard” who were responsible for the incorporation; and, the construction or Irish Stadium on a piece of land obtained from Herb Bolduan. This stadium has hosted numerous state high school, state babe Ruth, and state amateur baseball tournaments.

During the 1950’s and 1960’s, Maple Lake experienced great shifts in its economy. Agriculture declined as a percentage of employment with the shift to manufacturing and service employment. The population also began to become migratory with significant shifts of both in-migrants and out-migrants.

The 1970’s brought the Maplewood Addition for residential development including the Maple Manor Senior Citizen Housing Development. A second unit, Maple Manor West was built and opened in 1981.

The 1980’s included the Jude Industrial Park that initiated the extension of utilities to northwest Maple Lake and sites for the development of Bernatello’s Pizza, Cedar Lake Engineering, Jude Candy and Tobacco, Sun Patio Pontoon and Elletson Bowl and Recreation.

The 1990’s have included the expansion of Jude Industrial Park to the west allowing the expansion of Sun Patio/Warrior Boats, Cedar Lake Engineering as well as sites for new industries like Rhino Roto Mold, Elletson Manufacturing, Product Technologies Inc., Dental Resources Inc., KWM Manufacturing and H & H Sports. Residential development was spurred by the platting and development of the Donald C. Jude Addition and the Donald & Victor Jude Addition both located in north central Maple Lake. Commercial development in the 1990’s included Roger’s Amoco, Security State Bank branch facility, H & H Sports Shop, Pizzazz, Pauman Our Own Hardware, VFW, and the American Legion. Plans are currently underway to accommodate additional residential, commercial and industrial development. The future of Maple Lake was best described in a 1909 Great Northwest Magazine article that described Maple Lake as follows:

Perhaps no city was ever more favorably and fortunately located than Maple Lake. Maple Lake is what may be termed an ideal agricultural, home, church and school town.

Since 1990, both population and business activity have been growing rapidly. Contributing factors are: renewed spurt of industrial and commercial developments and the in-migration of population because of the community’s proximity to Minneapolis and, to a lesser extent, to St. Cloud.