The County is Organized
When Minnesota became a state in 1858, the vast area above Pokegama Lake was an untraveled wilderness of dismal swamps, sparkling lakes, and towering pine, known for almost two centuries only to a few explorers, fur traders and missionaries.
When W. W. Winthrop came up the Mississippi to Pokegama Falls in 1857 he reported the nearest lumber camp was forty miles south along the river. The only buildings in sight were the log cabins built for the men guarding the rights of the Dayton brothers and the Minnesota and Dakota Land Company, both of whom claimed land around the falls for a future townsite. Neither ever won title to the land. Moreover, their claims lay above the Falls, somewhat west of where Grand Rapids now lies. At least their ideas were sound.
No homes had been established. But Winthrop claimed,
“Leech River and the Mississippi above Pokegama flow through immense fields of wild rice, abounding at this season in ducks and geese, which afford capital shooting and the best eating.”
This was certainly attractive, then as now. But, below the falls, Winthrop noted that the pine forests “edge to the river on both sides.” And it was the pine that was to lure the first sizable numbers of men into Itasca County…
Read more here.