Itasca County, Minnesota

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Itasca County is a county located in the U.S. state of Minnesota. It is named after Lake Itasca, which is in turn a shortened version the Latin words veritas caput, meaning 'truth' and 'head', a reference to the source of the Mississippi River. As of 2000, the population was 43,992. Its county seat is Grand Rapids[1]. Portions of the Bois Forte and Leech Lake Indian reservations are in the county.



Itasca County was first formed in 1849, upon the creation of the Minnesota Territory. It was originally a much larger county, which covered many of today's northeastern Minnesota counties. The original Itasca County stretched over Cook, Lake, St. Louis, Koochiching, eastern Lake of the Woods, eastern Beltrami, Itasca, northern Aitkin, and northern Carlton counties, today in Minnesota.

Itasca County was originally named for Lake Itasca. It was found to be the true source of the Mississippi River. After many disputes over finding the source of the Mississippi River, Henry Roe Schoolcraft set out to find its true source in 1832. Once he came upon its true source, he decided to name this 'Lake Itasca.' The Mississippi River flows from its small beginnings at Lake Itasca past Bemidji and other cities all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.

Broken down, Itasca makes reference to the Latin saying 'Veritas Caput' which has a definition of 'true head.'

It was thought to name Itasca County after Lake Itasca because of the importance of finding the true source of the Mississippi River. With the Mississippi River being one of our great waterways of the nation, the name being chosen for this county was only appropriate to be after the Mississippi's true source: Lake Itasca.

Topography & Vegetation

The landscape in Itasca County varies greatly. The low plains, rolling hills, and wetlands occur where there was glacial activity in the past. This area is known greatly for being forested, and has been for centuries. The different forests are made up of trees such as pines, spruces, hardwoods, cedar, and tamarack. The many large forests in the area make forestry and logging major sectors in the economy.

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