The 150-year history of Brainerd was on display Wednesday, Sept. 22, during a trivia event to celebrate the city’s sesquicentennial.

In the middle of the week-long festivities, roughly 40 people gathered at Rumbly Hall in downtown Brainerd to test their knowledge of the city and surrounding area, attempting to answer questions about long-standing businesses, historic events, local celebrities and popular locales.

Host Dan Hegstad sprinkled in fun facts throughout the night, like that the Highway 371 bypass was first proposed way back in the 1940s, and in the 1920s, roughly 90% of Brainerd residents were dependent on the railroad, which employed just over 1,000 people. Today, 100 years later, BNSF employs about 70.

Six teams participated, and — perhaps unsurprisingly — the group that included Mayor Dave Badeaux and city council members Gabe Johnson and Mike O’Day came out on top, answering 42 of the 50 questions correctly.

The questions and answers are included below for those who’d like to take a crack at their historical Brainerd area knowledge.

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1. Ascensus was first called what?

2. In what decade was the city of Baxter incorporated?

3. It was Potlatch, Missota Paper Company then Wausau Paper. What was its first name?

4. The Native Americans called it Gaagaagiwigwani-ziibi or “Raven Feather River. We call it the Crow Wing River. It was an important trading post operated at the confluence of the Crow Wing and Mississippi rivers from 1823 until the railroad built a bridge in Brainerd. Trade routes from St. Paul to Winnipeg crossed the Mississippi at Crow Wing. The wheeled vehicles had a specific name. What were they called?

5. Brainerd International Raceway was first called what?

6. What was the official corporate name of the railroad that ran from Brainerd to International Falls on what is now the Paul Bunyan State Trail?

7. What was the Population of Brainerd in 1880 (within 10%)?

8. Who was the first female mayor of Brainerd?

9. Who is the current Superintendent of Schools for ISD 181?

10. The railroad operated a facility in west Brainerd from 1907 to 1985 that is now a superfund cleanup site. What did the railroad produce at this facility?

11. What is the name of the park bounded by Bluff Avenue, Fir Street and North Eighth Street?

12. What street runs east and west south of Willow?


13. In what year did Brainerd celebrate its quasquicentennial?

14. Name either or both pictured.


15. What was the name of the mayor of Brainerd who later served as Minnesota’s Governor?

16. This man is a professional cellist and is one of the main forces behind the Lakes Area Music Festival. Name him.

17. This major league baseball player of Native American descent was born in Crow Wing County in 1884. In 1911 he tied a record by pitching three complete games in a single World Series. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953. Who was he

18. Name any of the three teams that played in the Northwoods League (north division) from 1998 to 2011.

19. In 1941, the 34th Tank Company originating from Brainerd was ordered to Fort Lewis, Washington for training, where they were combined with units from St. Joseph, Missouri, and Salinas, California, to form the 194th Tank Battalion. Many died in what infamous WWII event?

20. Part of the Northland Arboretum now occupies land that was once what for the city of Brainerd?

21. The Brainerd Dispatch was founded in what decade?

22. In what year did Paul Bunyan move from Chicago to Brainerd?

23. What was the first radio station in Brainerd in 1946?

24. Another name for Northeast Washington Street (Not Minnesota Highway 210)?

25. The building that is the Sawmill Inn was once located on Mill Avenue and was the office building for the Brainerd lumber company. It was moved downtown and was known as what restaurant for many years?

26. A park was named after the first president of the aforementioned railroad. What park is it?

27. J. Gregory Smith, who named Brainerd for the family of his wife, Ann Eliza Brainerd, was governor of which state?

28. In 1872 National Guard troops were sent to Brainerd to quell an Indian uprising. Instead of gathering for war the Indians were doing what?

29. What happened in 1875 in Brainerd that killed five people?

30. Who robbed the First National Bank of Brainerd in 1933?

31. Roger Awsumb worked at KLKS Radio and passed away in Brainerd in 2002 at age 74. He is best known for playing what TV character?

32. The Brainerd Brewing Company was located on the east side of what lake?

33. A prominent Ojibwe Chief was assassinated at Fisherman’s Bridge near Pillager in 1868. Name him.

34. Name the movie.


35. On Christmas Day 1805 Zebulon Pike passed through what is now Brainerd. What was he looking for?

36. What is the average snowfall in Brainerd in inches (within 5 inches)?

37. Leslie Ambrose Bush was born in Brainerd in 1892. He played with the Red Sox, Yankees, Pirates, Giants and others. He is credited with developing the forkball. What was his nickname?

38. Brainerd is a neighborhood in Chicago. There are unincorporated towns named Brainerd in two other states. Name either state.

39. The historic Brainerd water tower served from 1920 to 1960. How much water did it hold?

40. What happened in 1922 that the Brainerd Dispatch said, “Split Brainerd At The Seams?”

41. Canadians were the largest group of foreign born Brainerdites until the Swedes took the lead in what decade?

42. What was named after John Mahlum and Nick Hanson in 1929?

43. What caused 35 Brainerd saloons to go out of business in 1916?

44. This building, built in 1913 was originally what?


45. The first state forest in Minnesota is near Brainerd. What is its name?

46. What prominent Brainerdite offered a steam powered Lake Livery Service throughout the Gull chain of lakes in the early 1900s?

47. What is the name of the current Mayor of Brainerd?

48. In a legal case spanning 30 years and ending in the U.S. Supreme Court, the city of Brainerd fought to keep what chemical out of the city’s water supply?

49. In July of 1978 a Brainerd jury convicted this man of a double murder. Name either of the people he killed.


50. This man served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1969 to 1972. He represented Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District in the U.S House of Representatives from 1975 to 1981 and later the Minnesota 8th District from 2013 to 2019. Name him.


1. Universal Pensions, Inc.

2. 1930s. Baxter was incorporated May 25, 1939 and is named after Luther Baxter, an attorney for the railroad who served in the Minnesota Legislature and as a colonel in the Civil War.

3. Northwest Paper Company.

4. Ox carts or Red River carts.


5. Donnybrook.

6. The Minnesota and International Railway.

7. 1,865 (1,679 to 2,051).

8. Mildred ‘Millie’ Michaelis.

9. Laine Larson.

10. Railroad ties.

11. Triangle Park.

12. Lawn Street.


13. 1996 (125 years).

14. Shotgun Red and Steve Hall.


15. C. Elmer Anderson.

16. Scott Lykins.

17. Charles “Chief” Bender.


18. Blue Thunder, Lunkers or Mighty Gulls.

19. The Bataan Death March.

20. City dump.

21. 1880s. December 22, 1881.

22. 1950.


23. KLIZ - AM.

24. A Street or Main Street.

25. Van’s Café, Van’s Lunch or NP Lunch Counter.

26. Gregory Park, named for John Gregory Smith.

27. Vermont.

28. Gathering and selling blueberries. It is known as The Blueberry War.

29. The railroad bridge collapsed.


30. Baby Face Nelson, real name Lester Gillis.

31. Casey Jones – Lunch with Casey on WTCN, now KARE 11.

32. Boom Lake.

33. Hole in the Day or Hole in the Sky.

34. Fargo.


35. The headwaters of the Mississippi River.

36. 48.2 inches (43.2 - 53.2 inches).

37. Bullet Joe.

38. Kansas or Tennessee.

39. 300,000 gallons. The newer water tower holds 1 million gallons at 8 1/3 pounds per gallon.

40. A strike by 1,400 railroad workers that lasted 8 months.

41. 1890s.

42. The VFW. They were the first two men killed in WWI.

43. Brainerd voted to go ‘dry.’ National Prohibition started in 1920.

44. Carnegie Library.


45. Pillsbury State Forest.

46. Stewart Mills Sr.

47. Dave Badeaux.

48. Fluoride

49. Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse, Velma Pietila. Roger Sipe Caldwell murdered them at the historic Glensheen Mansion in Duluth on June 27, 1977.


50. Rick Nolan.