Cass Lake, Minnesota

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Cass Lake is a city in Cass County, Minnesota, United States, located within the boundaries of the Leech Lake Indian Reservation, and is surrounded by Pike Bay Township. Cass Lake had a population of 860 in the 2000 census. It is notable as the headquarters location of the Chippewa National Forest, as well as the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.

Cass Lake is part of the Brainerd Micropolitan Statistical Area.

The city is located on the shore of its namesake Cass Lake, which in turn was named in honor of Michigan Governor Lewis Cass.



Forest products have historically been an important part of the local economy. The Glenmont Lumber Company opened a sawmill in the autumn of 1898, followed by Scanlon-Gipson Lumber Company opening a planing mill in the summer of 1899, both of which operated until the sawmill burnt in 1902. The Julius Neils Lumber Company opened a 30 mft sawmill, planing mill, and 8 mft lath mill in May 1900, operating until 1923. The Northern Pine Crating Co. opened a wooden box factory in the autumn of 1907, operating until the mill burned c.1950.

Wheeler Lumber Bridge and Supply Co. opened a post-peeling plant in 1949, followed by a wood-treating plant in 1951. This facility was expanded in 1959 and 1971. Wheeler was purchased by St. Regis Paper Company in 1968; St. Regis later purchased a sawmill as well Frank's Mill - opened 1939). After the purchase of St. Regis by Champion International in 1985, the facility was closed. The sawmill was purchased by Cass Forest Products and continues to operate (2010).

Tourism has been an increasingly important component of the local economy since the earliest days of the community. Numerous resorts and campgrounds in the area cater to sport fishing, hunting, camping, and watersports. Due to the cold winters, tourism is highly seasonal.

The Federal Government has been an important local employer since 1902, when the Minnesota Forest Reserve was established. Cass Lake was selected as the location of the Forest Supervisor's Office. Following passage of the Emergency Conservation Work Act of 1933 and establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps, Cass Lake was the headquarters for the Chippewa Sub-District, responsible for management of over a dozen camps. Among the CCC projects completed in Cass Lake were the monumental log-construction Forest Supervisor's Office (1936) and establishment of the Lydick Nursery (1934), which produced millions of seedlings for reforestation work.

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