Column: The many, many mixups on the Minnesota map

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 30, 2001

There’s a mighty muddled mixture of city and county names to be found on the Minnesota map.

Friday, March 30, 2001

There’s a mighty muddled mixture of city and county names to be found on the Minnesota map. It doesn’t take newcomers to this area, or even native Minnesotans from other parts of the state, very long to discover this all too true and sometimes frustrating fact.

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For example, Mankato is in Blue Earth County, and Blue Earth is in Faribault County, and Faribault is in Rice County. However, the merry map mixup doesn’t end with this litany at all.

There happens to be a small town named Rice located north of St. Cloud in Benton County.

Then there’s a Dakota County straight north of here, and a small community legally named Dakota over to the east in Winona County right next to the Mississippi River.

Windom is the county seat of Cottonwood County, but the town of Cottonwood is off in Lyon County.

Grand Marais is in Cook County, but the town of Cook is off to the west in St. Louis County.

Becker is the name of a small town in Sherburne County, and Detroit Lakes is the courthouse location for Becker County.

One of the largest counties in the state is named Ramsey. Yet, off to the northwest of St. Paul and still within the Twin Cities metro area is the rather large town of Ramsey in Anoka County.

There’s a locality named Traverse near St. Peter in Nicollet County. And off to the west next to both the South and North Dakota state lines is Traverse County where the main town is Wheaton.

The small town of Wright is west of Duluth in Carlton County, and Wright County is just west of the Twin Cities.

Hold on, folks, there’s still more to come.

Marshall is the county seat of Lyon County, and Warren is the county seat of Marshall County.

The community of Clearwater is located on the border between Stearns and Wright counties, and Clearwater County is way up north somewhere.

Just to add to the confusion a little more, Le Sueur is in Le Sueur County, but Le Center happens to be the county seat.

Then there are the places named in honor of the sturdy pine tree. Pine Creek is just south of the Canadian border in Roseau County. Pine Center is in Crow Wing County, and Pine Island is barely into Goodhue County. Pine River is in Cass County, and Pine Springs is in among some other suburbs in Washington County. Pinewood is in Beltrami County. And, finally, Pine City is in Pine County.

There are also four variations of the word rock on the state map. Rock County is located right in the southwest corner of the state. There are also three towns with the word rock as part of their legal designations. Rock Creek is in Pine County, Rockford is somewhat split between Hennepin and Wright Counties, and Rockville is up in Stearns County.

Hold on, folks, we’ve got a few more Minnesota map mishaps to add to the list.

Red Lake Falls is in Red Lake County, but the town of Red Lake is in Beltrami County.

Sherburn is in Martin County, and Elk River is the county seat of Sherburne County.

St. Louis Park is a suburb of Minneapolis and located in Hennepin County, and St. Louis County runs all the way from Duluth to the Canadian border.

Coming closer to this area again, there are even mixups in names between Iowa and Minnesota. Winnebago is a small city over to the west and north of Blue Earth, and there’s a Winnebago County to the southwest just across the Iowa line.

Tribune Editor Dylan Belden recently mentioned one of the oddest name mixups to be found on the state map. Fergus Falls is the county seat of Otter Tail (two words) County. Yet, within this same county is the small community of Ottertail (one word).

Somehow, this serves as a reminder of the sometimes confusing mixup with a Freeborn County township and river named Shell Rock (two words, not one)

Next week’s column will be a remembrance of Georges Denzene and his many contributions to area life.

Feature writer Ed Shannon’s column appears Fridays in the Tribune.