Facts and History
of Cass Lake, MN

The Cass Lake Chain of Lakes was part of the Red Lake-Leech Lake Trail, a series of interconnected waterways used as a water “highway” by Native Americans, trappers and traders. The trail ran from the southern point of Leech Lake to Cass Lake, on to Red Lake and finally to the Red River of the North.

Originally, the lake for which the City of Cass Lake is named was called Red Cedar Lake, after the trees growing on Cedar Island. The name was changed to Cass Lake in honor of the Governor of the Territory of Michigan, who traveled to this area in 1818 and named the lake as the source of the Mississippi River. It was not until 1832 that a party led by Henry Schoolcraft and his native Ojibwe guide, Ozawindib, discovered the true source, Lake Itasca.

Missionaries, as well as trappers and traders, played a great role in the early history of Cass Lake. Probably the first missionaries to work among the native Tribes of Minnesota were the Jesuits, though no individual names have been preserved. Congregational missionaries also took an early interest in this area.

By 1885, a log chapel had been constructed on the east shore of Cass Lake, near the Lake Andrusia Bridge. This was originally called the Galilee Mission, and is now known as the Prince of Peace Mission.

 
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