Above is the Brochure in it's early stages as developed by Kevin at Lakes Printing over in Frogtown...what a nice piece of artwork! We had expected he'd donate maybe a starter package of say a hundred brochures, and it turns out we got a full case of 1000!!! thanks, Kevin! They also donated the Window Banners and Posters.

It is difficult to narrow down all of the wonderful sites we would like to see in the brochure, but we have to start somewhere. Fortunately, sites that need to be recognized can be added at any time by means of a brightly visible icon in the window of the business in that building, one that can be sen clear across the street! Photos and historical information can then be found inside the business, perhaps on a nice collage on the wall, or on an easel. Below then is what we have so far for sites on this first walk, The Downtown Loop, this year called the Sesquicentennial Walk.

Who We Are, for the second fold-out of the brochure, 4/30/2008:

Brainerd History Walk

The Brainerd History Group, formed to celebrate Brainerdís participation in the 150th anniversary of State of Minnesota, is establishing a series of historic walks in the Brainerd Lakes area. The site, at the founding of the city, in 1871, was a crossroads on the frontier, to the Pacific and the Northwest. In the early days, the western reaches of the Northern Pacific Railroad were managed from the streets of Brainerd, and the hotels, stores and trading post served not only the railways, but also the lumbermen headed north for the winter season. As logging moved on, mining grew, along the Cuyuna range. Even in the early 20th century, the call of the lakes and forests was heard and people started to appear on lakeshores. But, with the highway systems after World War II, the Brainerd Lakes area became much more accessible, drawing people not only from Minnesota, but from other states.

Much of the history of the earlier period remains, the railroad, many buildings and sites, and the Brainerd Historic Walk is planned to be the first step to rediscovering the rich and varied history and stories of what was first known as the Crossing. Some monuments, the Iron Exchange, the two Opera Houses, the many city hotels, have been swept away, but many others remain, as do records of the frontier times. The Brainerd History Group, BHG, in conjunction with other community groups, is dedicated to celebrating this history and making it come alive in the 21st century.

Supporters: City of Brainerd, Crow Wing County Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Association, Brainerd Library, Crow Wing County Historical Museum, Community Action, Central Lakes College.

-Andrew Hook


-include the state Sesquicentennial logo

-provide web links for further information

-use a professional photo of the water tower

-4/30/2008: Since the above was written there has been some concern about the Downtown Loop including anything to the north of Washington St. for safety reasons. This is a valid point since it's a VERY busy street, although some others on the North Loop are busy too, just not THAT busy, and all of the major crossings on the Walk are semaphore-controlled with a Walk Signal. Also, this would of course solve my problem with having North Loop locations on the Downtown Loop!

Now another similar issue is the Trading Post site (Dairy Queen) which would hardly be considered a downtown location, but it IS south of Washington, and does make a nice "stretch of the legs" on an otherwise crowded walk. This site was also the real start of it all, so should be considered the lead up to the downtown developement.

When weighing these keep in mind that some points north of Washington are indeed considered part of the Downtown Restoration domain, at least I think this is the case. I don't know what areas are within the Main Street program. Anyone?

I did want to include the story and rich history of the Sawmill Inn (was formerly in NE Brd. as the Brainerd Lumber Co. office) on this first walk. However, I suppose it would not be the end of the world to stand at the water tower corner and give this interesting story just looking across the street!

So, having decided to slice off these northern stops, here is this remodeled list below.

Updated 4/30/2008.

4/30/2008: I will be choosing "The Top Ten", or the "cream of the crop" to highlight for the Sequi Week, May 11-18 and the guided tours only. These will be the premier locations with the most colorful history, the most interesting story to tell, things that might interest the historcally challenged! At these locations the group might sit and chat for even 5 or more minutes, encouraging some interaction with the group. It is likely WE will learn something of the site from the others on the group! I'll post these soon. I will plan a separate sheet that the tour guide can use, containing this extra information. These Top Ten and the extra information will be listed on a separate subpage with the same name.

A few hours in to the Top Ten list of copy/pasting, I am quickly realizing one thing...the best stories are of buildings that are no longer there!

Below is the Downtown Loop WITHOUT the stops north of Washington St. (6 less):.


1) LIBRARY, present, start here!

2) FRED DREXLER'S BLACKSMITH SHOP (1971 monument here, no stone pedestal, plaque is in the ground). This was one of Brainerd's early and busiest blacksmith shops, providing harnessing and shoeing for the horse-drawn wagons for many years.

3) IRON EXCHANGE BUILDING-1911, burned July 22, 1970, gone but not forgotten, was on the NW corner of 6th & Laurel Sts., probably the largest building in downtown Brainerd then or since, and the largest single-purpose building. If there was a premier building in Brainerd, this was it!

4) ELKS HOTEL-1926, Elks Lodge & Hotel, built for $175,000, the mortgage was burned in 1944.

5) PARKER BUILDING-1909, later Citizen's State Bank, which was originally the Northern Pacific Bank. It was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

6) BRAINERD STATE BANK, second facad, later Citizen's State Bank's next location.

7) O'BRIEN MERCANTILE-1883, NE corner 7th & Broadway (later called 8th St.), the first of 3 locations on this four corner spot.

8) SLEEPER OPERA HOUSE, next to and north of O'Brien Mercantile -1882, burned 1/2/1898. This imposing building seated 1,000, and was made of Brainerd red brick.

9) LAKELAND BUILDING, BRAINERD MODEL LAUNDRY. Walk past this brick building and look back and up, and you'll see the remnants of their sign still painted on the north brick wall.


11) CULLEN BLOCK-1880, built by a pop manufacturer, SE corner 7th & Front Sts. Look at the entire row of buildings south, most of which are named or dated up at the top!

12) FIRST NATIONAL BANK-1882, AKA the W. W. Hartley Building, the first brick building in town. SE corner 6th & Front Sts. Remodeled in 1916, the first of 3 such remodelings. It is said, although never proven, that It was robbed in 1933 by "Baby Face" Nelson!

13) RANSFORD HOTEL-1904, demolished 8/9/1975, build by Ransford Rogers Wise, earlier Bly's Block-1871, burned June 1904, SW corner 6th & Front Sts.

14) YMCA, first-1889, formerly on this site at NW corner 6th & Front Sts. In 1901 out front was laid Brainerd's first sidewalk. Demolished sometime after 1946 after sitting vacant.

15) HOBO PARK/NPRR, AKA Depot Park, a popular meeting place and once had a 2 block long, 2-way toboggan slide here, later location of the Baehr Building-1936/Brainerd Theater-1938, demolished 2/1999.

16) DEPOT, NPRR, first-1872, burned 1917, (1971 stone stone monument here), replaced with the concrete water tower on its site.

17) WATER TOWER-1922 (1971 stone monument here, also a state historic landmark!) This is the first all concrete water tower in the US, one of only 2 built anywhere, the other being in Pipestone, MN. The bowl was finished in one single pour, quite a feat in the day! It was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, held 300,000 gallons but has been dry since 1966.

18) ARLINGTON HOTEL-about 1889, burned 1/1/1904. Replacing the burned Headquarter's Hotel on nearly the same location, this hotel was moved here piece by piece from the North Dakota by Ransford R. Wise, and reassembled, with not one light or window being broken.

19) HEADQUARTER'S HOTEL, NPRR-Mar., 1871, Brainerd's first hotel, burned. This 3 story building had an overhead reservoir for a water supply and a 7 ton ice house. This is replaced on almost the same location by the Arlington Hotel.

20) DEPOT, NPRR, second-1920, demolished 10/18/1968.

21) TRADING POST, James Hallet builder-Sept. 1870, gone, (1971 stone monument here). A stretch of the legs (3-1/2 blocks) but worth the trip! This was the first building built in Brainerd, and was also the location of the Ferry Landing. It lasted until the 1920's.

22) COUNTY JAIL AND SHERIFF'S RESIDENCE, second-1919, now the Crow Wing County Historical Society, it was put on the National Register of Historic places in 1980.

23) COURTHOUSE, second-1920, put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

24) LAST TURN SALOON, the ORIGINAL, not the existing one-about 1872, SW corner 4th & Front Sts., long gone.

25) NASH FINCH COMPANY-1901, first Brainerd Flour & Feed Co., 1905-Brainerd Wholesale Grocery Co., 1927-Nash Finch Co., 1985- Country Foods & Produce, Inc., 1986-vacant, 1996-printing shop

26) RUSSELL CREAMERY/Meadow Gold, 425 Front St.

27) FIRE HALL, first, gone, 427 Front St. Fire Dept. first organized Feb. 13, 1872 in Milt Askew's Billiard Hall (SE corner 3rd & Front Sts.), with 37 members paying $1 each.

28) PARK OPERA HOUSE-1890, 509 Front St., later the Paramount Theater, demolished 1995, after sitting vacant for some time.

29) BANK OF BRAINERD-1879, SE corner 5th & Front Sts.

30) FIRE HALL, second-1914, now Community Action.

31) CITY HALL-1914. This building and the Fire Hall were not connected when first built.

32) ARMORY, first-1936, formerly on this site, demolished.

33) GREYHOUND BUS DEPOT-1945, replaced the Gardner Block.

34) LIVELY GARAGE/AUTO COMPANY, later Mill's companies.

The above route as walked in this order is about 2.2 miles.