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Elk River Historic Downtown

Walking Tour Brochure
View the Historic downtown walking tour brochure. 

About Elk River, MN
Elk River is a city in Sherburne County, Minnesota, United States, about 34 miles northwest of Minneapolis. It is situated at the confluence of the Mississippi and Elk Rivers. The population was 22,974 according to the 2010 census.
The village of Elk River, which included the City of Orono and “Lower Town”, was platted in 1865, but it did not become incorporated until 1880. The city center has shifted since 1865 due to the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, along with highway construct.
The hardwood-forested hills in which Elk River is situated, were pushed up by the last glacier that advanced across Minnesota. These hills are made up of coarse materials, which is the reason gravel mining is so prevalent in Elk River, and also the reason much of the area is not considered good farmland.

The City of Elk River offers many amenities for its residents including a small town feel while being close enough to the Twin Cities and St. Cloud. The City boasts two golf courses, Pinewood Golf Course, a municipal nine-hole course, and Elk River Country Club, an 18-hole course. The Elk River Arena is located near the Elk River High School and offers skating to youth and adults, as well as a Spring and Fall Arts and Craft Fair, an arena walking track, and much more. The City of Elk River offers many opportunities to the 55 year old and over crowd with an Activity Center and Senior Center. The Elk River Public Library is part of the Great River Regional Library system and the building is a LEED Gold Certified building. The City of Elk River has over 40 parks with over 800 acres land.
While the City of Elk River offers many amenities today, there are a number of historic features that can still be seen throughout the city. Some interesting historical facts about Elk River include:

  • Elk River was home to the first national bank in Sherburne County in 1870, Houlton Bank, located downtown Elk River.
  • W.H. Houlton, who owned the Houlton Farm, also co-founded the Union Congressional Church in Elk River located at 1118 4th St NW.
  • One of the last executions by hanging in Minnesota took place in City of Elk River on December 5, 1905 to CD Crawford for the “Box Car Murder”.
  • Men who fought in the Civil War are buried in the Elk River Cemetery as well as the box car murderer.