About This Place
Elk River is a city in Sherburne County, Minnesota, United States, about 34 miles northwest of Minneapolis. It is situated at the confluence of the Mississippi and Elk Rivers. The population was 22,974 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Sherburne County. The city's population exceeded 20,000 as of 2005. U.S. Highways 10 and 169 and State Highway 101 are three of the main arterial routes, and a station on the Northstar Commuter Rail line to downtown Minneapolis is located in the city.
Zebulon Pike passed through the area on his 1805 exploration of the upper Mississippi River and named the Elk River after the herds of animals he saw. The area was not settled by Europeans until David Faribault built a trading post near the confluence of the Elk and Mississippi Rivers in 1846. The post was later sold to Pierre Bottineau. The site was a good location for trading not just because of the rivers, but also because of the proximity of the Red River Trail.
In 1851, Ard Godfrey, a native of Orono, Maine, saw the potential of the water power of the Elk River and built a dam and a sawmill. His dam created the first lobe of Lake Orono (called the Mill Pond), which extended from the present day dam to Orono Cemetery Point. In 1855 the area by the dam was platted and the town of Orono (known as Upper Town) was created.