Geographic Names - Becker County MNGenWeb

Geographic Names of
Becker County



The city of Audubon is located on Highway 10 approximately 40 miles east of Fargo, ND, and 210 miles northwest of Minneapolis, MN. Situated in the southwest corner of Becker County, it developed as a result of the 1871 expansion of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Audubon was established as a community in 1873; it was settled mainly by farmers of Scandinavian descent.

The town was named after the great American naturalist and artist, James A. Audubon. During an early tour of the "Audubon" branch of the Northern Pacific Railway line, a passenger, Audubon's niece, commented dn the beauty of the lily-covered prairie and asked that if a railroad station were ever built there, that it be named after her uncle. While searching for a township name, the Audubon name suggestion seemed to stick, and on January 2, 1881, it became the official town name.

Today, Audubon is home to Audubon Engineering & Manufacturing and other industries, as well as the Audubon Truckstop which features a 24 hour service station, restaurant and convenience store. Audubon also maintains a post office, a Co-op elevator, a municipal liquor store, a bank (First State Bank of Audubon), a meat locker (Audubon Meat Inc.), two grocery stores (Smith's General Store and Gottenborg Grocery and filling station), and The Audubon Supper Club.

Population: 1990 - est. 420


Callaway is located about 12 miles north of Detroit Lakes on Highway 59, approximately 45 air miles east of Fargo. It's situated in Becker County's northwest corner, along the Soo Line Railroad's "Glenwood route" - a section of track between Winnipeg and Minneapolis. The small farming communities of Richwood and Westbury lie within a 5 mile radius of Callaway.

As the Soo Line pushed northward in 1903, the Callaway community developed. Callaway's rich farmland attracted many early Scandinavian settlers who were interested in farming its fertile tracts of land. Today, agriculture remains Callaway's main economic resource. The community is also home to both the Lion's and Jaycees organizations as well as two service stations, a municipal liquor store, an elementary school and a local cafe.

Population - 1990 est. 238.

Detroit Lakes

Detroit Lakes was originally home of the Sioux, until the Chippewa (Ojibway) pushed them westward. During the mid-1800s, Detroit Lakes was a favorite resting place for travelers of the Red River Oxcart Trail, a 400 mile path from Winnipeg to St Paul. For many years, the resting place was called "Ga-ia-wa-wan-gag - a Chippewa name meaning, "Lake in which there is a crossing in a sandy place."

Settlers, having trouble pronouncing that name, preferred a traveling French priest's description of the sandy place; he called it "Detroit," using the French word for sand bar. The name stuck. Today, the city of Detroit Lakes has an estimated population of 7,500 residents and is located at the geographical center of North America.

Detroit Lakes is an important agricultural area; it is also the center of a thriving "412 Lake" tourism district. Besides providing a strong educational system for its residents, Detroit Lakes is home to many different churches, an industrial park and a variety of' retail businesses.

Detroit Lakes is patrolled by an 12 man police force and a large auxiliary network. Detroit Lakes service organizations include: American Legion, Eagles, Elks, Jaycees, Kiwanis, Lions, Masons, Optimist Club, Rotary, VFW and Auxiliary, and Women of Today.


The city of Frazee is located at the junction of Highway 10 and Minnesota State Highway 87, approximately in the center of Becker County's southernmost border; it is approximately 10 miles southeast of Detroit Lakes; 55 miles east of Fargo, ND and 195 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

Frazee was settled in 1868, earning it the distinction of being the first area settled in Becker County. When the Hobart Depot and Weymouth Hotel moved to Frazee in 1874, the city of Frazee developed quickly. (It was said the food at the Weymouth was so good, that the Northern Pacific Railroad Line scheduled regular stops to partake in its culinary delights.) The combination of the depot and a lucrative flour mill, and a booming logging industry, Frazee was Becker County's largest city until the logging "boom" fizzled out at the turn of the century. At its peak, however, Frazee's population climbed a little over 2000 in the late 1880s.

Today, Frazee is home to many businesses. Daggett Trucking, Gary's Furniture Store, the Frazee Municipal Liquor Store, Ketter's Meat Market, and the Frazee Co-op Farm Service Association are just a few examples of Frazee's thriving business district.

Population - 1990 est. 1176.

Lake Park

The city of Lake Park is located on Highway 10 approximately 35 miles east of Fargo, ND and 215 miles northwest of Minneapolis. With gentle rolling hills and an elevation of 1270 feet, Lake Park is a fertile farm area producing grain, potatoes, and livestock.

Lake Park was named for a beautiful lake which used to be located on the original townsite. In the early 1870s, this lake was drained, however, to allow for the building of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Although the lake was lost forever, the railroad stimulated Lake Park's growth as settlers took advantage of its easy transportation to the region.

Today, Lake Park is home to many area businesses. Country Furniture, for example, is one of the largest furniture stores in the lakes area. Besides a co-op elevator, feed plant, Laundromat, municipal liquor store, bank, city center, and public pool, the Lake Park community is home to a variety of churches, including the Lake Park Lutheran Church, the Glori Dei Lutheran Parish, the Eskjo Lutheran Church.

Population - 1990 estimate 648.


Ogema is located on Becker County's northernmost boundary on Minnesota Highway 59. It's approximately 21 miles due north of Detroit Lakes. Ogema was founded in 1906, nearly 40 years after the establishment of the surrounding White Earth Reservation; its name, however, means "Chief" in the Chippewa language. The town developed as the result of the Soo Railroad Line's northward expansion. Today, Ogema is home to a municipal liquor store, a community hall, a bank, Shirley's Cafe, Green's Family Foods, Lorsung Hardware, and three service stations.

Population - 1990 estimate 215.


Osage is located on Hwy. 34 approximately 31 miles east of Detroit Lakes and 8 miles west of Park Rapids. It is located in the center of the County's western border, with the Smoky Hills State Forest providing its backyard. Today, Osage is governed by a town board and its school age children are bussed to the Park Rapids School District. Osage is located within Osage Township and maintains a grocery store (Osage Country Market), Laundromat, Kendall's Garage, and a post office.


Ponsford is located on Becker County's eastern border at the intersection of County Road 129 and a small section of Minnesota Highway 225. Ponsford is a rich farming community, maintaining a post office, trading post, hardware store for its population of about 25 people. Service organizations include: Northern Lights 4-H Club, a volunteer fire department (Carsonville Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department), the Helping Hand Club - a local organization devoted to helping the area's poor and needy. Established in 1944, the organization is still going strong, "Doing unto others, we would have others do unto us."

Two Inlets

Two Inlets is located on Becker County's eastern border. Nestled quietly in the county's forest district, it is approximately 10 miles north of Osage and 12 miles northeast of Ponsford on County Road 44. The Two Inlets area was once a center of the thriving 1880s logging boom. Today, Two Inlets maintains a sawmill, grocery store, Catholic church, gas station, and town hall.

White Earth

The community of White Earth is within the white Earth Indian Reservation located approximately 22 miles north of Detroit Lakes at the intersection of County Road 23 and Minnesota Highway 224. The village of Earth is governed by a community council. The council members are elected for two year terms and help community projects through fund raising efforts.

Wolf Lake

The city of Wolf Lake is located about three miles north of State Highway 87, in the corner of the Smoky Hills State Forest. Detroit Lakes is 32 miles due west of the village which was settled mainly as a logging camp site. After the great forests of Minnesota had been exploited by big lumbering companies, Wolf Lake turned to farming. Today, Wolf Lake maintains many organizations including: VFW, VFW Auxiliary, 4-H, Homemakers, and a sportsmen's club.

Place Names

The U.S. Geological Survey list of populated places in Becker County, Minnesota contains the 26 names.

The U.S. Geological Survey - National Mapping Information Service list 593 feature names in its Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) for Becker County, Minnesota.

The types of features include:

Geographic Names Information System

Online searches may be performed using U.S. Geological Survey - Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Query. A GNIS query returns: feature names, state, county, feature type, latitude, longitude, and the name of the U.S. Geological Survey 7.5' map where the feature is located. Search results are linked to the Tiger Map Server at the U.S. Census Bureau to produce online maps that show the location of the feature in the United State and also the location in the region.

U.S. Geological Survey 7.5' Map

A USGS 7.5' map covers an area that is seven and one-half minutes of latitude by seven and one-half minutes of longitude. It is a 1:24,000 scale map (2.64 inches equal one mile).

These maps show a lot of detail including township, range, section numbers, township names, elevation contour lines, lakes, water depth, rivers, streams, marshes, roads, cemeteries, fence lines, buildings and other man made features.

A folder describing topographic maps and symbols is available on request from the U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia 22092.

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