Pine City, Minnesota Article

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Pine City, Minnesota
Downtown Pine City
Downtown Pine City
Official logo of Pine City, Minnesota
Nickname(s): Pine, P.C.
Motto(s): North. Nice and close.
Location of Pine City within Pine County, Minnesota
Location of Pine City
within Pine County, Minnesota
Coordinates: 45°49′38″N 92°58′17″W / 45.82722°N 92.97139°W / 45.82722; -92.97139
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Pine
Incorporated February 14, 1881 [1]
 •  Mayor Carl Pederson
 •  City Council Brian Scholin, Gina Pettie, Steve Ovick, Mary Kay Sloan
 •  City Administrator Kenneth J. Cammilleri
 •  Fire Chief Tom Miller
 •  City Planner Lezlie Sauter
Area [2]
 • Total 3.91 sq mi (10.13 km2)
 • Land 3.44 sq mi (8.91 km2)
 • Water 0.47 sq mi (1.22 km2)
Elevation 951 ft (290 m)
Population ( 2010) [3]
 • Total 3,127
 • Estimate (2016) [4] 3,065
 • Density 800/sq mi (310/km2)
 •  Demonym Pine Citian
Time zone UTC-6 ( CST)
 • Summer ( DST) UTC-5 ( CDT)
ZIP code 55063 (pop. 9,927)
Area code(s) 320
FIPS code 27-51064 [5]
GNIS feature ID 0649445 [6]
For additional travel information, see Pine City Wikivoyage

Pine City is a city in Pine County, Minnesota, in East Central Minnesota. Pine City is the county seat of, and the largest city in, Pine County. [7] A portion of the city is located on the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation. Founded as a railway town, it quickly became a logging community and the surrounding lakes made it a resort town. Today, it is an arts town and commuter town to higher paying jobs in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area.[ citation needed]. The population was 3,127 at the 2010 census.

Its name is a loose translation of " Chengwatana" (White-Pine Town), originally an Ojibwe village located just east of Pine City, along the Snake River. The Ojibwe name for the city is Ne-zhingwaakokaag (on a land-point full of white pines).


Historic Pine City Aerial, overlooking the railroad

The Dakota Indians were the first in the area. With the Ojibwa expansion, the area became a mixture of the two. By the early 19th century, the area became predominantly Ojibwa. They trapped and hunted on the land and traded furs at the nearby trading posts. With the Treaty of St. Peters of 1837, dubbed the "White Pine Treaty", lumbering began in the area. Lumbering, though, was limited by access to the available waterways.

In the late 19th century, European settlers came to the Pine City area, which was still heavily forested with thick stands of white pine, some of the largest in the state. When the railroad arrived in Pine City so began a logging expansion. Pine City prospered and grew into a city that had everything needed to serve residents, farmers, and the fast expanding lumber industry. Pine City was platted in 1869. [8] The city was incorporated in 1881.

When Buchanan County was merged with Pine County in 1861, the county seat was consolidated to Pine City because it was already well-established. Because of its location on the far southern edge of Pine County, there have been attempts over the years to move the county seat to more centrally located Hinckley and Sandstone. However, being the most populous city in the county, Pine City always prevailed as the county seat.

In 2005, the city became the first in rural Minnesota with an annual gay pride event, East-Central Minnesota Pride, and one of only two rural communities to hold such an event in the United States. A book capturing Pine City's history in vintage photos was written as part of the Images of America series and became available in 2010.


  • 1804 – The seasonal living of the Ojibwe changed when Europeans arrived.
  • 1837 – With the Treaty of St. Peters, dubbed “White Pine Treaty", lumbering began in the area.
  • 1848 – The Ojibwe community of Chengwatana forms as an official village.
  • 1856 – Chengwatana became the county seat for Pine County.
  • 1872 – Two years after a fire at the Chengwatana courthouse, by popular vote Pine City became the county seat and a new courthouse was built.
  • 1881 – Pine City incorporated as a village west of Chengwatana due to the railroad’s location west of Cross Lake. Chengwatana declined into a ghost town.
  • 1894 – Pine City’s Robinson Park became a staging area, a “ground zero”, for support and relief from the Great Hinckley Fire.
  • 1903 – Adam Bede speaks at Associated Press annual dinner in New York City.
  • 1939 – Pine City built a plain, yellow brick, two-story rectangle city hall but gave the building to the county after becoming nervous it might lose its county seat status because of the need for better office space. Even so, the words “Pine City village hall” were carved over the east entrance.
  • 1952 –The towered, Romanesque Revival style courthouse building built in 1886 was struck by lightning, causing it to burn.
  • 1954 – In a bond issue, the county raised the money needed for a new courthouse and added it onto the north end of the one-time city hall (which ironically is used in part by city hall today), using the same marble wainscoting and terrazzo floors. The words “court house” were carved over the north entrance.
  • 1967 – Interstate 35 was completed through Pine City and by 1961 it was under construction north of Hinckley.
  • 1978 - First International Polkafest held here.
  • 1980 – Jean Lindig Kessler crowned Princess Kay of the Milky Way.
  • 1992 –30-foot tall voyageur statue erected on the north shore of the Snake River, near downtown.
  • 1993 – Karla Nelson named AAU Ms. America.
  • 2005 – People around the region hosted first annual East-Central Minnesota Pride in Pine City.
  • 2007 – A few years after a failed attempt to split the county in two, a new courthouse was erected on the northern edge of Pine City near the freeway.
  • 2012 – June 5, with H.R.3220 the Pine City post office was renamed the "Master Sergeant Daniel L. Fedder Post Office".
  • 2017 - The Pine City boys' basketball team received national attention in The Wall Street Journal for their offensive philosophy to shoot primarily 3-pointers [9].

Present day

Pine City is reached as a day trip for tourists from the Twin Cities who enjoy the downtown's specialty stores and restaurants as well as a nearby casino and recreational opportunities, including the scenic St. Croix River valley. Also, a local historical site situated along the Snake River, the Snake River Fur Post, has become a tourist draw; it was used by British fur traders nearly two centuries ago.

Pine City is also home to two golf courses, the Pine City Country Club, a nine-hole, par 36 public course that opened in 1971, and Pokegema Lake Golf Course, a course located just west of town.

The Pine County Fair takes place in Pine City each year in late July/early August. A highlight of the fair is a three-night demolition derby that is one of Minnesota's largest, drawing several thousand spectators each evening. The five-day event is a free gate fair and also features free on-site parking.

The Initiative Foundation named Pine City "Outstanding Community" of 2009 [10] and the NAMM Foundation identified it as one of the "Best Communities for Music Education in America" for 2010, 2011 and 2012. [11] In 2016, Movoto named Pine City one of "The 7 Best Towns in Minnesota for LGBT Families". [12]


Pine City is located in Minnesota's 8th congressional district, represented for many years by Jim Oberstar, a Democrat and now represented by Democrat Rick Nolan. Pine City is in State Legislative District 11-B, represented by State Senator Tony Lourey (DFL) and Rep. Jason Rarick.

Pine County Courthouse

A new courthouse and county offices were relocated from downtown to the north end of town in 2007. The former courthouse was renamed Pine Government Center in 2010 and now houses city government and other community organizations including the Chamber of Commerce.

2017 Mayor and City Council
Mayor Carl Pederson January 2017 to January 2018
At-large Mary Kay Sloan January 2015 to January 2019
At-large Gina Pettie May 2017 to January 2019
At-large Steve Ovick January 2017 to January 2021
At-large Brian Scholin January 2017 to January 2021
  • City government: The city of Pine City is led by a mayor-council form of government. Mayoral elections occur every two years. City council seats are contested every four years. However, not all of the council members are elected in the same year, as the council elections are staggered throughout odd-numbered years. The council consists of five members elected to represent the city as a whole (that is, at-large).

The longest-serving mayor in Pine City's history was Jane Robbins.


Winter scene with native pines in the background

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.91 square miles (10.13 km2), of which 3.44 square miles (8.91 km2) is land and 0.47 square miles (1.22 km2) is water. [2]


The city has 12 city parks, which include two undeveloped parks (Cross Lake Preserve Park, Fawn Meadows Park); two passive parks, manicured but lacking recreational equipment (Meadow Ridge Park, Thomas Park); and eight active parks, with playgrounds and/or sports facilities, including:

  • a community garden and a public fishing pier (Challeen Park)
  • four ballfields (City Ballfields)
  • three ice rinks (Hilltop Park)
  • a public boat landing (Riverside Park)
  • a performing stage (Robinson Park)
  • a disc golf course (Voyageur Park)
  • a skate park and a public beach (West Side Park)
  • a Gulf War veteran memorial (Woodpecker Ridge Park)


Below is a table of average high and low temperatures throughout the year in Pine City.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg high °F (°C) 21 (−6) 27 (−3) 38 (3) 54 (12) 67 (19) 75 (24) 80 (27) 78 (26) 69 (21) 55 (13) 39 (4) 25 (−4)
Avg low temperature °F (°C) 4 (−16) 17 (−8) 30 (−1) 40 (4) 51 (11) 56 (13) 56 (13) 53 (12) 43 (6) 32 (0) 21 (−6) 6 (−14)

Places of interest

Pine City's famous roadside attraction, the Voyageur, in Voyageur Park
Rural School Museum, Built 1908


Main Street, formerly U.S. Route 61

Mass transit

Presently, the Rush Line Corridor task force is studying the feasibility of rail service to serve area commuters and the Northern Lights Express passenger line is proposed to serve area residents as well as those traveling between the Twin Cities and Twin Ports. For travel within the city, there is local taxi service available.


Pine City is served by the Arrowhead Transit intra-county system. An intercity bus service called Jefferson Lines runs from Pine City to St. Paul or Duluth twice daily.

Major highways

Pine City is located along Interstate 35 between the Twin Cities and Duluth. The St. Croix Scenic Byway also passes through Pine City. The major highways include:


Pine City is located on rail lines owned by BNSF Railway and leased by St. Croix Valley Railroad.


There is a planned, non-motorized trail connecting the Twin Cities-to-Twin Ports areas called the James L. Oberstar State Trail [13], awarded federal and state funding to connect the Sunrise Prairie Trail, near North Branch with the Willard Munger State Trail, near Hinckley.

Business and industry

MINPACK, Inc. is one of the largest employers, with over 100 employees. Atscott Manufacturing Company, has 85 employees. Both have their headquarters in Pine City. Other large employers in the community include Wal Mart, Innovative Basement Systems, Product Fabricators, Inc., Broekema Beltway, ISD 578, Therapeutic Services Agency, Pine County, Lakeside Medical Center, and Lake Superior Laundry.


Farmers' Market, Robinson Park
Downtown Pine City street scene
Pine City's A&W Carhop
Downtown Pine City street scene

Pine City serves as a shopping hub for such surrounding Minnesota communities as Askov, Braham, Brook Park, Henriette, Hinckley, Finlayson, Rock Creek, Rush City and Sandstone, as well as Grantsburg, Wisconsin.

In addition to a Walmart Supercenter, Pine City is home to three retail shopping centers: Pine Plaza, Evergreen Square and Northridge Center. Pine Plaza, located in the central business district, was Pine City's first shopping center. It is anchored by an old-fashioned drive-in A&W All-American Food Restaurant, one of the few remaining carhops in the state. Evergreen Square is anchored by Dollar Tree and is also home to such stores as Radio Shack, Great Clips, and Subway (restaurant), as well as a Fairview Health Services clinic. Pine City's newest shopping center is Northridge Center, located at the city's developing northern freeway interchange, home to a Verizon store, stores catering to outdoor enthusiasts and several service-related enterprises.

Downtown Pine City

Pine City has one of the most evident downtowns between the Twin Cities and the Twin Ports. Robinson Park is in the heart of it and forms the center of the town square, with the old train depot to the east, a library to the south and many mom and pop shops lining 5th Street on the west side of the park including a microbrewery named Three Twenty Brewing Co. On the north side is Pine City Scrapbooking Co., a scrapbooking store that has received national attention. [14]


As of the census [5] of 2000, there were 3,043 residents, 1,222 households, and 734 families in the city. The population density was 1,076.3 people per square mile (415.2/km²). There were 1,275 housing units at an average density of 451.0 per square mile (174.0/km²).

Racial makeup (2010)

95.58% White, 1.54% Native American, 1.22% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 0.74% Asian, 0.26% African American, 0.19% from other races, 0.03% Pacific Islander and 1.67% from two or more races.


After the Census 2010 count of same-sex partners in Minnesota, it was discovered that the Greater Pine City area was home to some of the most concentrated same-sex coupled households of any rural area of the state. [15] [16]

Population statistics

The city has continued to grow since it was incorporated. In fact, it is one of only three small towns in Minnesota, along with Mora and Litchfield, to have never lost population [17]. Much of the growth of the area occurs around the lakes in the neighboring townships, in Pokegama, Chengwatana or Pine City Township, and as of the latest census, the Pine City Zip Code (55063) had 9,348 residents.

Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20163,221 [4]3.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

Other demographics

There were 1,222 households out of which 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.8% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.9% were non-families. 34.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the city, the population was spread out with 25.3% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 25.0% from 25 to 44, 17.9% from 45 to 64, and 21.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $29,000 and the median income for a family was $37,000. Males had a median income of $30,000 versus $20,000 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,000. About 10.8% of families and 15.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.4% of those under age 18 and 14.1% of those age 65 or over.

Ancestry of Pine City residents is primarily German (36%), Norwegian (17%), Swedish (15%), and Czech (8%).


Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

Pine City is home to several churches, of various denominations, including:

  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
  • First Presbyterian Church
  • Grace Baptist Church
  • Hustletown Community Church
  • Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
  • Journey North Church
  • Kingdom Hall – Jehovah's Witness
  • Living Hope Christian Center
  • Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
  • Pine City Church of Christ
  • Pine City Evangelical Free Church
  • South Pine Baptist Church
  • Zion Lutheran Church

Education and academic institutions

An 800-seat auditorium opened at Pine City High School in 2014

The Pine City Public Schools (Independent School District #578) serve more than 1,600 area students through one PK–6 elementary school (Pine City Elementary), a 7–12 Junior/Senior High School, which was named a U.S. News & World Report "Best High School", [18] and the Pine City Area Learning Center. Pine City is also home to St. Mary's School (Catholic), which serves preschool and K–6 students.

Pine Technical and Community College is a two-year institution offering a wide variety of technical and general education courses. It is also part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. Pine Tech's gunsmithing curriculum is one of the only programs of its kind in the country and draws students from throughout North America.

The Pine City Public Library is part of the East Central Regional Library. The ECRL holds nearly 400,000 volumes and serves over 65,000 cardholders in the region. Pine City is also home to the George E. Sausen Memorial Law Library, located inside the Pine County Courthouse.

Elementary schools

  • ECFE/Community Education (early childhood), 700 6th Avenue SW
  • Pine City Elementary School: grades K-6, 700 6th Avenue SW
  • St. Mary's School: grades K-6, 815 6th Avenue SW

Junior high schools

Senior high schools

  • Pine City Senior High School: grades 10-12, 1400 Main Street S
  • Pine City Area Learning Center (ALC): grades 9 - 12, 1225 Main Street S
  • Vision School, Pine Plaza, 870 Main Street S

Health and utilities

Pine City's Lakeside Medical Center has a full-service clinic and nursing home facility. FirstLight Health System – Pine City Clinic provides a variety of health care services including: family medicine, obstetrics, orthopedics, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, pediatric therapies, cardiac rehabilitation, and Urgency Services. FirstLight Health System opened a new family practice clinic in January 2011. The $3 million facility encompasses 13,500 square feet (1,250 m2), and an addition opened in 2015, a freestanding emergency facility. Pine City is also home to three chiropractic clinics and More Than Sprouts, a local market featuring organic and health foods.

Utility providers are regulated monopolies. East Central Energy provides electrical utilities to the community and is a co-op member of Great River Energy. Minnesota Energy supplies gas and US Cable provides cable television. The city treats and distributes water and several local businesses provide garbage removal and recycling services.

Amateur sports

The Pine City Pirates is the city's baseball team, featuring mostly local players and competing in the Eastern Minny (now North) League, which is part of the Minnesota Baseball Association. Amateur baseball has been a part of Pine City culture for years and has enjoyed many successes in the past. The Pirates have had several state appearances including: 1950, 1952 B 2nd, 1953 B 3rd, 1961 and 1962. The team was defunct for a period of time before being revived in 2017.


Pine City's growing arts community placed it on 2010, 2011 and 2012 lists of "Best Communities for Music Education in America." The high school band and musical theatre program built its reputation under the former direction of Mr. Bradley Mariska, and musical ensembles at Pine City High School give free performances throughout the school year. A major recent development is the Pine Center for the Arts, which opened in downtown Pine City in 2009. The center is a regional arts facility that houses a variety of educational and performance-based programs relating to theatre, music, visual art, literature, and dance. Classes and special events take place throughout the year. Pine City has an active community theater, the Heritage Players, which performs semiannually. The Pine City Arts Council sponsors a variety of annual events, most notably a free Friday night summer concert series held in Robinson Park. An annual concert series is also hosted in an 800-seat auditorium at Pine City Junior/Senior High School. This new performance space opened in 2014.

Major annual events

Historic photo of the Pine County Fair

The following community and regional events are held in and around Pine City.

Spring, summer, and fall


  • Winter Frolic - Jan. 20, 2018
  • BB32 Hockey Tournament - Jan. 21-22, 2018
  • (Ice) Fishing Derby, Pokegama Lake – Jan. 29, 2018 (49th Annual)
  • (Ice) Fishing Derby, Cross Lake - Feb. 10, 2018
  • Queen Charlotte's Birthday Ball - Feb. 10, 2018
  • Holiday Madness and lighted parade – Dec. 1, 2018



The major weekly newspaper in the area is the Pine City Pioneer, with a circulation of over 3,000. The Pioneer is owned by Kanabec Publishing and edited by Mike Gainor. Papers from the Twin Cities are also commonly read.


Pine City receives TV signals from the Twin Cities. Channels include Twin Cities Public Television, WCCO 4, KSTP-TV, KMSP-TV, KARE, WFTC, and KSTC-TV.


WCMP (AM) and WCMP-FM are the two local Pine City stations. The rest are "fringe" stations from surrounding areas. Pine City also receives radio stations from the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, and western Wisconsin areas.

Station call sign Frequency Tower location Format Notable personalities
WCMP (AM) 1350 AM Pine City, MN RedZone "Ugly" Del Roberts
WCMP-FM 100.9 FM Pine City, MN Country-Cool Country Doug Fredlund
WCMP-FM 106.5 FM Pine City, MN Classic Hits
KMKL (FM) 90.3 FM North Branch, MN Christian Contemporary
KNOW-FM 94.1 FM Pine City, MN News ( Minnesota Public Radio)
WYSG 96.3 FM Hinckley, MN Christian music ( LifeTalk Radio)
KCMP 97.5 FM Hinckley, MN Adult Album Alternative (The Current)
KSJN 104.5 FM Hinckley, MN Classical The Late George Donaldson Fisher
WLUP 105.3 FM Cambridge, MN Sports Radio
WLMX-FM 104.9 FM Balsam Lake, WI Adult Hits-Mix 105
WXCX 105.7 FM Siren, WI Classic Hits-SAM

Pine City in pop culture

  • Missing child Aaron Mitchell Anderson, of rural Pine City, appeared in the music video for Runaway Train (Soul Asylum song). After his picture was shown, his full name appeared in large capital letters on the screen along with the words "missing since April 7, 1989". [19]
  • During a battle with a rare form of Leukemia, Pine City resident and U.S. Air Force Cadet Brian Bauman appeared in the March 4, 1996 issue of People (magazine) after receiving a bone marrow match from his Korean homeland. [20]
  • In 2011, a Guinness World Record was set at the Frisbee golf course in Voyageur Park for most holes of disc golf played in a 24-hour period. Dan Schnabel beat the previous record set by over 100 holes and finished with 1,305 holes played including three aces during that time period. [21]
  • Jack Schultz, founder of a Midwestern economic development firm and author of the book “ Boomtown USA” (Published February 1, 2004), said 12 small cities in Minnesota (including Pine City) that he coined "agurbs" were among a group of 397 nationwide to outperform major metropolitan areas and were poised to boom.

Fictional references

  • Craig Wright, best known as the writer of HBO's Six Feet Under, set a series of plays in fictitious "Pine City, Minnesota." These have been performed across the United States: The Pavilion, Orange Flower Water, Molly's Delicious, Melissa Arctic and Grace, which takes place in Florida, but is about people who come from Pine City. [22] [23] [24]
  • Author Dean L. Hovey wrote a series of seven fictional mysteries set in the Pine City area: Where Evil Hides, Hooker, Unforgettable", "Undeveloped", "The Deacon's Demise", and "Family Trees". "Family Trees: A Pine County Mystery" won the 2018 Northeastern Minnesota Book Award fiction category (NEMBA) for its depiction of values, settings, and social issues of the region." [25] [26]

Notable people

Photo of farmhouse where Bob Mould sequestered himself to and wrote his first solo-album "Workbook"
Photo of baseball card for Rube Walberg

The following list includes those who were either born in, or who have resided (or presently reside) in Pine City:


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on January 24, 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  3. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  4. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  7. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 10, 2015. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  8. ^ Upham, Warren (1920). Minnesota Geographic Names: Their Origin and Historic Significance. Minnesota Historical Society. p. 413.
  9. ^
  10. ^ 2009 Outstanding Community Video
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Welcome, Everyone, to Pine City - Daily Yonder". Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  16. ^ "Minneapolis 4th highest for number of same-sex couples copy". Archived from the original on 2013-02-17. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^,,20102939,00.html
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Minnesota Legislators Past and Present-James Adam Bede
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i j
  29. ^ Minnesota Legislators Past and Present, Ben Boo
  30. ^

Further reading

  • Cordes, Jim (1989). Pine County-- and its memories. s.n. ASIN  B00071SNAQ.

External links

PINE CITY MINNESOTA Latitude and Longitude:

45°49′34″N 92°58′07″W / 45.82611°N 92.96861°W / 45.82611; -92.96861