Ham Lake, Minnesota

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Ham Lake is a city in Anoka County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 12,710 at the 2000 census.

Minnesota State Highway 65 serves as a main arterial route in the city.

Contents

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 35.7 square miles (92.5 km²), of which, 34.5 square miles (89.2 km²) of it is land and 1.2 square miles (3.2 km²) of it (3.50%) is water.

Adjacent cities

History

The earliest record of settlers in this area goes back to 1855, and in 1856 the group started a town. This was just south and west of a lake shaped like a ham. They platted and sold lots for a town they named, "Glen Carey," a Scottish name meaning "Beautiful Valley." The place was widely advertised as a future city. However, in 1857 all of the houses were destroyed by a prairie fire. Some of the inhabitants barely escaped with their lives saving only a very few household goods. They soon left the area as they had nowhere to live. There was no more settlement until 1866 when a Norwegian man settled in the area. He was soon followed by other Scandinavians. The Scandinavian settlers found it difficult to pronounce the Scottish name of Glen Carey. Since no name had been chosen by the people, the commissioners named it "Ham Lake," after the lake which had acquired that name on account of its shape.

The early settlers found the soil well suited to farming as it wasn't as rocky as they had been accustomed to in Scandinavia. Through the years, dairying became an important industry. The pioneer farmers soon found the soil well suited to growing potatoes and this became an important commodity for both cash sales and trading. From the early 1900s through the 1930s potato farming was at its peak in Ham Lake Township. The some of the farms remaining today are the sod farms in the southeastern part of the city, where the ground is low and the soil black and heavy making it well suited to this crop as well as corn and potatoes in some places.

In 1894 when the population was over 400 people a group of farmers joined together to form a cooperative and built a creamery. Several general stores were built there shortly afterwards. What became the main store in town, Soderquist's, was built on land sold to the Soderquist family by the Olson family, who had extensive landholdings along what would become Highway 65. Like many small American towns, over time all the "old" families became related through marriage. Although many of the establishing families have since moved away from Ham Lake due to increasing property taxes and crowding, these familial connections remain firm and many members of the families are still in close contact.

In 1922 a garage was opened in the northern part of the town.

A Fire Department was established 1969 with Eldon Hentges as the first Fire Chief. Ham Lake officially became a city on Jan. 8, 1974, with Eldon Hentges serving as the first mayor.

Demographics

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 12,710 people, 4,139 households, and 3,472 families residing in the city. The population density was 368.9 people per square mile (142.4/km²). There were 4,208 housing units at an average density of 122.1/sq mi (47.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.70% White, 0.50% African American, 0.39% Native American, 0.76% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.37% from other races, and 1.25% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.14% of the population.

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