Forest Lake, Minnesota

Forest Lake, Minnesota
Forest Lake, Minnesota
—  City  —

Location of Forest Lake, Minnesota
Coordinates: 45°16′34″N 92°59′5″W / 45.27611°N 92.98472°W / 45.27611; -92.98472
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Washington
 - Total 36 sq mi (11.0 km2)
 - Land 36 sq mi (10.9 km2)
 - Water 0.1 sq mi (0.1 km2)
Elevation 912 ft (278 m)
Population (2010)
 - Total 18,375
 - Density 1,620.8/sq mi (626.4/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 55025
Area code(s) 651
FIPS code 27-21770[1]
GNIS feature ID 0643806[2]

Forest Lake is a city in Washington County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 18,375 at the 2010 census.[3] It is located on Minnesota's 94th largest lake (not including Lake Superior).

Interstate 35 and U.S. Routes 8 and 61 are three of the main arterial routes in the city.

The separation of highways 35W and 35E (from Interstate 35), just south of Forest Lake, is commonly called the Forest Lake Split. The Forest Lake Split was the scene of the August 11, 2003 death of Herb Brooks, coach of the gold medal-winning 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team (Miracle on Ice). The Forest Lake Split was represented in the original 1970 opening title sequence for the Mary Tyler Moore Show, when the "St. Paul to the left/Minneapolis to the right" sign was shown. The only interstate system location for such a sign was at the Forest Lake Split.



Forest Lake began as a stop for the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad. The first train reached Forest Lake on December 23, 1868. The lake was so named for the abundant timber that lines its shores. Forest Lake Township was organized on March 11, 1874; The first one-room school was built that same year, which stood at the present day location of city hall. The city of Forest Lake was incorporated on July 11, 1893 with 175 residents. In 2001, the city annexed the former Forest Lake Township.[4]

Forest Lake was known as one of the major summer resort areas of the upper Midwest in the late 1800s/early 1900s. The village had numerous hotels, including the Marsh Hotel, on North Shore Drive, which was host to U.S. President Grover Cleveland and future U.S. President William McKinley, as well as many world dignitaries. The steamship Germania sailed the Forest Lake chain of lakes in the late 1800s, and was a major tourist draw.

Minnesota's first Boy Scout troop was formed in Forest Lake in July of 1910. This was one of the first officially chartered Boy Scout troops in the United Sates.

President William Howard Taft considered Forest Lake for his 1911 summer residence.

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s Forest Lake was known as the turkey capital of the world. The official national Thanksgiving turkey for President Harry S. Truman at the White House came from Forest Lake in 1946 and 1948.

The world's first floating heliport was built in Forest Lake in 1956.

Forest Lake has been known as the 4th of July capital of Minnesota since the mid-1960s.

The Forest Lake Marching Band was rated in the top five high school bands in the United States twice in the 1960s.

Forest Lake was the site of the 1968 World Outboard Power Boat Racing Championship.

Forest Lake was the site of the 1970, 1971 and 1972 U.S. International Snowmobile Championships.

The Forest Lake City Marching Band, formed in 1981 by Forest Lake High School alumni Steve Hursh and Brian Tolzmann, and directed by long-time Forest Lake High School director Rollin Nelson, was a seven-time state, six time Midwest region and 1985 national champion open class band. Willard Scott, popular NBC television personality, called the band, "The best band he'd ever seen" during a 1985 broadcast.


Forest Lake has a high population of northern pike, largemouth bass, walleye, and lots of pan fish (blugill, crappie, and perch). It also holds muskie, while the numbers are relatively low, the average size is becoming quite large, making for a trophy fishery. The city hosts an annual ice fishing tournament known as Fishapalooza.[5] Forest Lake was known as the bass capital of Minnesota during the 1960s and 1970s, with the official Minnesota bass opener taking place at Forest Lake several times. The ice fishing contests held on Forest Lake in the mid-1990s were reported to be the largest in the country.


The first newspaper, The Enterprise, was printed in 1903. It was changed in 1907 to The Forest Lake Advertiser and later to The Forest Lake Times, in 1916 as it remains to this day. The Forest Lake Press is another local paper.

Pop Culture References

A poem, entitled "To The Aurora Borealis", written by world-renowned Indian yogi and guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, while visiting Forest Lake in 1927, appears in the book "Songs of the Soul".

An episode of actor Lee Marvin's television series, "The Lawbreakers" was filmed in Forest Lake in November, 1963.

The Hitching Post Motel, one mile (1.6 km) north of downtown Forest Lake, was featured in the 1996 Academy Award-winning movie Fargo (film). That is where William H. Macy's character, Jerry Lundegaard, is captured by police at the end of the film.

There is a scene in the 1999 motion picture, Drop Dead Gorgeous (film), (which is about a Minnesota beauty pageant), in which one character yells, "Come on Miss Forest Lake!".

Portions of the 2012 independent film, "Lumpy", starring Justin Long, Shelly Long, Tyler Labine, Addison Timlin and Jess Weixler were filmed in Forest Lake early in 2011. One of these shooting locations was at the Forest Motel, near downtown Forest Lake.


  • The Tin Man (the old Forest Lake water tower) was dismantled on November 9, 2006.
  • Lakeside Park (Located on the northwest side of the lake.)
  • The original 1940s manufacturing site for the Toni Home Permanent was a former one-room schoolhouse located at Garen, Minnesota, off Highway 61, just south of Forest Lake. It was destroyed by fire in February of 1951.
  • Just north of the Hitching Post Motel was the site of a Minnesota Highway Department historic marker which had this inscription: "Through this point from southeast to northwest extended the Indian Boundary as defined by the Prairie du Chien Treaty of 1825 as surveyed and marked by the government. To the south was Sioux country, to the north, Chippewa, but neither tribe paid much attention to the line."
  • Forest Lake is home to Minnesota's biggest black ash tree, which stands near Sunrise Creek, on North Shore Drive. The tree, which has held the title since 1998, stands 65 feet (20 m) tall and has a 47-foot (14 m) crown spread.

Other Places of Interest

  • Just outside Forest Lake is the Wildlife Science Center, an internationally-known research and education facility that studies numerous wildlife species, specializing in wolves Wildlife Science Center has the largest captive population of privately maintained wolves in the United States.
  • Forest Lake is home to the 23,000 acres (93 km2) Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area. At the time of its creation the area was said to have the most diverse wildlife population of any urban area of the United States
  • Forest Lake is home to St. Croix Forge, the leading horseshoe manufacturer in North America.
  • Running Aces Harness Park is five miles (8 km) from downtown Forest Lake.
  • Lamprey Pass Wildlife Management Area is located along I-35, two miles (3 km) from downtown Forest Lake. This site is the oldest known Native American settlement in the state of Minnesota, containing Hopewell culture burial grounds that are believed to date back more than 2,000 years.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.2 square miles (11.0 km²), of which, 4.2 square miles (10.9 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (1.18%) is water.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1900 241
1910 540 124.1%
1920 800 48.1%
1930 916 14.5%
1940 1,120 22.3%
1950 1,766 57.7%
1960 2,347 32.9%
1970 3,207 36.6%
1980 4,596 43.3%
1990 5,833 26.9%
2000 6,856 17.5%
2010 18,375 168.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 data

As of the census[1] of 2010, there were 18,375 people, 2,805 households, and 1,744 families residing in the city.[6] The population density was 510.4 people per square mile (1321.95/km²). There were 7,508 housing units at an average density of 2.44 people. The racial makeup of the city was 94.66% White, 1.06% African American, 0.39% Native American, 1.46% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.63% from other races, and 1.72% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.34% of the population.

Median household income for 2009 was $64,515. Per capita income for 2009 was $30,464.

2000 data

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 6,798 people, 2,805 households, and 1,744 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,620.8 people per square mile (626.4/km²). There were 2,897 housing units at an average density of 690.7 per square mile (267.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.18% White, 0.40% African American, 0.40% Native American, 0.54% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.19% from other races, and 1.24% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.00% of the population.

There were 2,805 households out of which 32.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.9% were married couples living together, 13.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.8% were non-families. 30.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.8% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 31.2% from 25 to 44, 20.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 93.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.6 males.

Public schools

The Forest Lake Area school system includes 8 elementary sites, 2 junior highs sites, and 1 high school site. In addition to these, there is also an area learning center located at the former Central Junior High School site.

Elementary schools (grades K-6)

  • Central Montessori
  • Columbus
  • Forest Lake (4-6)
  • Forest View (K-3)
  • Lino Lakes
  • Linwood
  • Scandia
  • Wyoming

Junior High schools (grades 7-9)

  • Century
  • Southwest
  • Forest Lake Area Learning Center (ALC): grades 6 - 9

High schools (grades 10-12)

  • Forest Lake Area High School
  • Forest Lake Area Learning Center (ALC): grades 10 - 12

Notable natives

  • William Rush Merriam, who served as Governor of Minnesota from 1889 to 1893, was a summer resident of Forest Lake, and major property owner on the North Shore Drive area of Forest Lake. Merriam was responsible for convincing Congress to establish the U.S. Census Bureau. He was also the largest financial contributor to the construction of Faith Lutheran Church in Forest Lake in the late 1800s.
  • Patrick J. Towle, area grocer who was the founder of Log Cabin Syrup, lived in Forest Lake early in the 20th century.
  • Bernard "Bud" Nygren, a 1936 graduate of Forest Lake High School, was, in 1946, the first person to ever score points for any Los Angeles pro sports franchise, when he scored a touchdown for the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference.
  • Dr. Lysle Peterson, who is credited with creating the world's first complete computer model of the human circulatory system, as well as the first modern method of recording arterial blood pressure, is a 1938 graduate of Forest Lake High School. He was also instrumental in establishing the methods of testing the effects of G-forces on astronauts for NASA.
  • Helen Fowler, who inspired the character Margaret in the famous Maud Hart Lovelace book series, Betsy-Tacy, was a resident of Forest Lake during the middle of the 20th century. Fowler was Lovelace's sister.
  • Arne Carlson, former Governor of Minnesota, is a former resident of Forest Lake.
  • Walter Mondale, former vice president of the United States, is a former resident of Forest Lake.
  • Clarence W. "Scotty" Fenton, one of the nine-member gun crew of the USS Ward (DD-139), that fired America's first shot of World War II (December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor), lived in Forest Lake.
  • Gangsters Ma Barker, John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and George "Bugs" Moran lived in Forest Lake from time to time during the 1930s.
  • Brothers Eddie and Roy Shipstad, founders of the Ice Follies, the first touring ice skating show, were summer residents of Forest Lake for much of their lives.
  • Ruth McGowan, half of the world-renowned husband/wife McGowan and Mack figure skating duo, which appeared with James Stewart and Joan Crawford in the motion picture The Ice Follies of 1939, was a resident of Forest Lake, and she died there in 2001 at the age of 92.
  • Jerry Richert, member of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, was a resident of Forest Lake.
  • Former WWE world champion pro wrestler Nora Greenwald (aka Molly Holly) was born in Forest Lake and is a 1996 graduate of Forest Lake High School.
  • Actor Jim Lichtscheidl, stage (Guthrie Theatre) and film (Factotum (film)), (A Serious Man) is a 1988 graduate of Forest Lake High School.
  • Two-time Tony Award nominated actor Christopher Sieber (Spamalot and Shrek the Musical) is a 1988 graduate of Forest Lake High School.
  • 1986 All-Big 10 and Minnesota Vikings running back Rick Bayless (football) is a 1983 graduate of Forest Lake High School.
  • Karla Hult, reporter for KARE television in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN is a 1991 graduate of Forest Lake High School.
  • Former Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals lineman Adam Haayer is a 1996 graduate of Forest Lake High School.
  • Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jack Trudeau was born in Forest Lake in 1962.
  • Al Bergstrom, who founded the iconic Al's Breakfast in Minneapolis, was a resident of Forest Lake, and died there in 2003, at the age of 97.


External links

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