Milford Mine park may expand, add features

Crow Wing County Board members were in favor of exploring the expansion that could double the park, extend trail systems, add pier to site of mine collapse

The boardwalk at Milford Mine Memorial Park.
The boardwalk at the Milford Mine Memorial Park, seen Tuesday, July 12, 2022, spans two points of land at Milford and Foley lakes at the park.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — An expansion of the Milford Mine Memorial Park could double the size of the current park.

The work could also create a pier where people could walk out over the lake to the spot where the mine actually existed and where it collapsed and flooded before the lake reclaimed it.

Gary Griffin, Crow Wing County land services director, presented an outline of a park expansion Tuesday, May 16, as commissioners met as the Committee of the Whole for an informal discussion. An expansion would increase walking trails, add boardwalks over a creek between Island Lake and Milford Lake to provide for the expanded trail system.

Griffin noted his conversations with Commissioner Doug Houge and Commissioner Steve Barrows, who observed trails that came to a dead end by the park’s features and historical markers, making people backtrack. So Griffin said they looked to see if there was a better way to have a flow through the park and took a closer look at the undeveloped tax-forfeited land by the park.

Milford Mine Memorial Park located about 4 miles north of Crosby along Highway 6 and honors the 48 miners working in the Milford Mine on Feb. 5, 1924 — most of whom lost their lives in the mining disaster as the mine flooded.


For decades, the site was largely left to history. But the county moved to create a park there and bring people closer to the region’s past and retain the historic memory.

A sign was erected at the park entrance, a picnic shelter with three picnic tables and two cooking grills were installed, a small lakeside picnic area was created, benches put in and a bike rack were built in 2012. Construction work continued in 2016 at the memorial park located at 26351 Milford Lake Drive and included a boardwalk, trails, kiosk construction and interpretive displays. In 2017, work included a permanent outhouse, a covered shelter and a canoe landing.

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Commissioner Paul Koering asked Griffin to explain the funding so people don’t think tax dollars are going for the project. Griffin said funding is from the county’s timber management plan. The county manages about 105,000 acres of land that generates about $1 million a year from timber sales, mostly to Sappi Corp. for cellulose used in clothing and toiletries. Some of that money goes toward parks.

Commissioners were in favor of pursuing the plan and doing public outreach about it.

Koering said it’s good for the public to know the county is investing those dollars back into the county and he noted, never being a park fan before, he continues to be surprised by how many people are using the parks, particularly park at South Long Lake.

Houge said the addition to Milford Mine park would be a great improvement to a park that is already good.

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or Follow on Twitter @DispatchBizBuzz.

Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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