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Lake of the Woods County

The name has been received from the large lake on the border between the United States and Canada. There have been a few Finns there, at least temporarily, although census figures do not indicate their presence until 1930. However, Ilmonen suggested in his book, published in 1926, that "the northernmost part of Minnesota, along the Canadian border, is still almost undisturbed wilderness, where only hunting and fishing are carried on. This area includes Lake of the Woods County, which has very few inhabitants. However, even in those distant wildernesses Finns have built their homes, having received free lands through the Homestead Act." 21 The Census statistics indicate 10 Finns in 1930, but only 8 in 1950. The cooperative in Spooner, the Co-op Ass'n, which joined the central organization in 1928, had in that year a gross income of $122,000.

Koochiching County

East of Lake of the Woods, and still along the Canadian border, lies Koochiching County, where the first white settler was a Scottish bachelor, Alexander Baker, who arrived in 1870, and who lived by trapping and trading with the Indians. He had no white neighbors until 1881, when Joseph Baker built himself a cabin nearby.

Alexander Baker sold his holdings to two Minneapolis businessmen, who contemplated the building of a power plant along the Koochiching Falls. As far back as 1889, lumber firms had tried to buy this area, which the government had reserved for the Indians, who still owned 3,000,000 acres of it in 1902. Half a million acres had been set aside for homesteads, but only 160,000 acres had been sold. General opinion seemed to indicate, however, that this forest wealth had to be exploited, and special legislation in 1902 opened the area to lumbering on a gigantic scale : in 1894, for example, the Rainy Lake Journal had estimated that in the northeast corner alone there were some 700,000,000 feet of lumber ready to be cut. In 1900, two men, W. Backus and W. F. Brooks, appeared in International Falls and procured rights to the falls; due to their initiative it became an important sawmilling center, which offered work to many Finns. With the completion of a dam, the place began to grow into a community; even the railroad made its way here, with the first train arriving in Inter

21. Ilmonen, op.cit. III, pp 195-196


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