Within the borders of Crow Wing State Park are the remnants of Old Crow Wing, one of the most populous towns in Minnesota during the 1850s and 60s.
The town was at the confluence of the Crow Wing and Mississippi Rivers which provided easy travel routes and good hunting.
In early years, the region was inhabited by Dakota and there were conflicts with the Ojibwe who eventually gained control over the area.
By the late 18th century, European fur traders were in the area and a trading post was opened in 1823. The town slowly grew around it.
The economy boomed and three churches were established, the remains of a small cemetery are visible near the site of the Catholic church.
At its peak, there were between 600-700 residents in the town, approximately half were Ojibwe.
Clement Beaulieu ran the American Fur Company’s trading post. His home is the oldest standing structure in Minnesota north of St. Anthony Falls and was considered a mansion when it was built in 1849.
But the success of the town came to a quick end.
In 1868, the Ojibwe were relocated to the White Earth Indian Reservation. And in 1871, railroad magnate James J. Hill decided to route his Northern Pacific Railroad over the Mississippi in Brainerd, 10 miles north of Old Crowing.
Most of the town’s residents had moved on by 1880.
Today, Crow Wing State Park is on the National Register of Historic Places.