Old Crow Wing – Brainerd, Minnesota - Atlas Obscura
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Old Crow Wing

Brainerd, Minnesota

This once prosperous community was home to European settlers and the Ojibwe. 

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At Crow Wing State Park, visitors can enjoy hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing on the peaceful forested trails at the confluence of the Crow Wing River and Mississippi River. This intersection once provided more than natural beauty, the region was once home to French and Ojibwe residents who constructed a thriving trading town in 1823. 

At its peak, the town contained around 700 residents, half of whom were Ojibwe and half of whom were European settlers.

In 1867, ten Ojibwe chiefs met with President Andrew Johnson, a meeting that resulted in a treaty that forced all Ojibwe residents to relocate to the White Earth Indian Reservation. The remaining residents left for the city of Brainerd, ten miles away, where jobs with the Northern Pacific Railroad were available. 

Now, Old Crow Wing is a ghost town overlooking the confluence of the rivers. The last remaining building is the former residence of Clement Beaulieu, a successful Métis fur trader. This is now the oldest standing building in Minnesota outside of the Metro area. 

Visitors to Old Crow Wing can travel a reconstructed boardwalk and stand in the eerie former locations of buildings, with placards drawn from firsthand sources to describe what occurred in each location of the former town. 

Know Before You Go

State Park pass required. Find the small Chapel of St. Francis Xavier nearby. 

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