Chambers of Commerce
and Visitors Bureaus
Pine City Area (incl. Rock Creek)
Pine City (pop. 3,127) has one of the most evident business districts along Old Highway 61. A plethora of events year-round make it a happening place on the Old Highway. Pine City has a number of legendary locals who hail from there. The North West Company Fur Post is just on the outskirts of town, and a rural school museum and 12 city parks give ample places to stretch and find something interesting to do in town. The Snake River meanders through downtown and a World Record-setting disc golf course is on its northern banks. Be sure to see François the famous roadside voyageur statue while there.
Rock Creek (pop. 1,628) is mostly rural, and one of the largest cities in Minnesota, land-wise, spanning nearly 43 square miles. Historic downtown Rock Creek, just off Old Highway 61, has little traces left, other than a mechanic shop and the post office.
Hinckley Area and Hinckley CVB
Hinckley‘s (pop. 1,800) name in the Ojibwe language is Gaa-zhiigwanaabikokaag, meaning “the place abundant with grindstones” due to being located along the Grindstone River. On September 1, 1894, the Great Hinckley Fire killed more than 400 people, and a museum honors them and tells the story today. The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe opened Grand Casino Hinckley in 1992 and it has become Greater Minnesota’s largest tourist attraction. The famous Tobie’s caramel rolls are sure to satisfy one’s sweet tooth approximately midway between St. Paul and Duluth.
Sandstone Area (incl. Rutledge)
Sandstone (pop. 2,849) is located on the Kettle River, known for its glacial kettles, and rapids well loved by kayakers and canoeists. The town was built-up around a large Sandstone quarry. Railroad conglomerate James J. Hill built many of the remaining sandstone structures in the town. The city has Robinson Park, an historic and natural area that serves as the picnic area for the community, hosts ice climbing in the winter, preserving the Sandstone Quarry history and is an access point for the Kettle River. The Sandstone Ice Festival celebrates the coming of winter and is held in the beginning of December each year. In the spring local paddlers host theKettle River Paddle Festival, an event for canoeists and kayakers. The community is surrounded by Banning State Park, has a connection to the Willard Munger State Trail and is near the Audubon Center of the North Woods. In recent years, Sandstone has gained national recognition as the home of the Midwest Country Music Theatre.
Rutledge (pop. 229) has a unique story. Long before it ever became an incorporated village, a group of Native Americans lived along the banks of the Kettle River from where the community is today to a point about five miles downstream. A bridge was constructed across the Kettle River what was called the Rock Dam. On the south side of the river, a station was built, at which stagecoaches stopped to change horses and allow passengers to get out and stretch their legs and have a lunch, and where the first Europeans settled. In 1870, the railroad was completed in this region, and a depot was built about 2.5 miles upstream from the Rock Dam, named Kettle River Station. The community began to grow near the station. On February 14, 1893, an election was held at the school house to decide whether the settlement should be incorporated as a village. A total of 22 votes were cast, 19 favoring incorporation. The Village of Rutledge was named after local lumberman Edward Rutledge, who had built several mills in the area.
Willow River and Sturgeon Lake (See: Moose Lake Area)
Willow River (pop. 415) is located at the confluence of the Kettle and Willow Rivers, first settled by Ojibway Indians. Willow River was later chosen as a changing station for coach horses along the Old Government Road. On May 8, 1891, the village plat was filed in Pine County. The Fox-Wisdom Lumber Company and its employees made up the majority of property owners. Willow River, like many other village in northern Minnesota, owed its existence to the lumber industry. In November 1891, Willow River was incorporated as a village by a vote of 37 to 18 in the upstairs hall of the Fox-Wisdom Company store. Football Hall of Famer Ernie Nevers hailed from Willow River.
Sturgeon Lake (pop. 439) was home to Florian Chmielewski, a musician and politician; George Cunningham, a major league baseball pitcher; and Clay Wilson, an ice hockey player.