City of Garrison
City of Garrison in 1950

History of Community

City of Garrison

The small City of Garrison is located on the northwest shores 
of Lake Mille Lacs, a short two—hour drive from the metropolitan area of Minneapolis and St.Paul.
For as long as most people can remember, Garrison has catered to the vacationing family, providing year-round recreation for everyone.
  Garrison differs from most of the small cities in the area in that they did not enjoy the booming effects associated with the westward push of the iron horse.   
    And yet they survived. Early settlers to locate in the area included a man by the name of Oscar E. Garrison,a land surveyor and civil engineer. 
 He came to Minnesota in 1850 and platted the Village of Wayzata on Lake Minnetonka.  In 1882, he homesteaded a piece of property near what is now known as Garrison Creek. In 1883, a group of people platted a townsite on part of Section 13 of Garrison Township (named after Mr.Garrison).The townsite was known as ”Rowe" in honor of a man by the name of Gib Rowe who lived nearby. The Crow Wing County Commissioners accepted the platt on February 19,1883.
The settlement was known as "Rowe" but was first called Mille Lacs. Then in 1884, the first Post Office was established. It was called the Garrison Post Office with Mrs. Mary J.Garrison as Postmistress. The location of the post office is believed to have been on the property homesteaded by Oscar E.Garrison.
 Seth Dinwiddie was contracted to carry the mail between Garrison and Brainerd in the same year. His contract included a salary of  $200.00 per year.
  In 1888, voters petitioned to have the post office located at the south shores of what is now referred to as Garrison Bay. The new post office was to be called Garrison. At that time, the property was owned by the Dinwiddie family and Garrison Bay was referred to as Dinwiddie Bay. Informative sources indicated that the Dinwiddie family was of the first to settle in the area. Seth Dinwiddie ,ventured to the area about 1880 from Wisconsin. A short time later, Clark Dinwiddie brought his family and settled on the bay about where the present state park is located.  They had a large house ,barn and ice-house.  There were several steamboats operating on the lake. There was a large rock reef in front of Dinwiddie's where the boats landed. Travelers were able to get food and lodging at the Dinwiddie house. From 1884 on, the settlement was generally know as Garrison.  However, in the early 1900, a second townsite was platted adjacent to ”Rowe” in Section 13 of Garrison Township known as Midland. For some years the community was referred to by that name . Most of the present City of Garrison is located within the Midland townsite. In 1892, Seth Dinwiddie had a thirty-six foot, eight horsepower steamboat built by Robinson and Rowley at Brainerd.  The cost of building the boat was $1,200.00 . It was used for carrying both freight and passengers.  Boats on the lake included the Gracie Dee, reported to be the first boat on the lake; the Lemnica and the Geo.McClothen which picked up cream at the various docks; the Gertrude, the Luella and the Dewey which were considered pleasure or excursion boats; and one called the Queen Ann. Steamboats were used quite extensively until 1915. From as far back as the late 1880‘s,fishing for market was quite profitable. In the spring and fall two men with spears and a jack-lite could take hundreds of fish in one night. Story has it that the best record for one man in one night was nine hundred fish. In May of 1889, it was reported that 25,000 pounds of fish were shipped from Garrison to Minneapolis via Brainerd during a three week period. In 1895,  a fish law was passed forbidding the taking of game fish during the months of March and April. The first schoolhouse came with the establishment of School District #2 in the early 1880's. It is believed that the first school building was located where the concourse now stands.Later, a new school was built one mile north of Garrison across from Borden Lake. In 1955, voters agreed to build a new brick school building to be built in the City of Garrison. At present, students from the surrounding areas in grades one thru six attend school in Garrison ,while the upper grades are transported to Brainerd. In 1895, Garrison had one sawmill. By 1896 the community was booming with two sawmills and a single mill. One mill owned by Crowell Bros. produced eight  to ten thousand broad feet of lumber each day. As roads and transportation improved, Garrison became a weekend retreat for thousands of City dwellers. Resorts sprang up around the lake. The Blue Goose Resort  is one of the older established resorts.It was not uncommon to see a group of fishing boats being towed out to the favorite fishing spots. Garrison experienced a sudden growth in the early 1930's when the Civilian Conservation Corps established a camp there. The CCC workers numbered over 200. The concourse located in Garrison is one of the many projects of the CCC. In 1937, the voters of Garrison decided to incorporate as a village. It is said that the CCC people helped to make the voting population of Garrison large enough to grant its first liquor license, which reportedly was issued to the Blue Goose. Many years later Garrison is still offering fun and recreation to all.