Pine City, Minnesota

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Pine City
Downtown Pine City
Downtown Pine City
Official logo of Pine City
Pine, P.C.
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
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedFebruary 14, 1881[1]
 • MayorCarl Pederson
 • City CouncilBrian Scholin, Gina Pettie, Steve Ovick, Mary Kay Sloan
 • City AdministratorMatthew Van Steenwyk (interim)
 • Fire ChiefTom Miller
 • City PlannerLezlie Sauter
 • Total4.26 sq mi (11.03 km2)
 • Land3.85 sq mi (9.98 km2)
 • Water0.41 sq mi (1.05 km2)
951 ft (290 m)
 • Total3,127
 • Estimate 
 • Density801.76/sq mi (309.58/km2)
 • Demonym
Pine Citian
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
55063 (pop. 9,927)
Area code(s)320
FIPS code27-51064[5]
GNIS feature ID0649445[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 also the county seat of 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 exists in part as a commuter town to jobs in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area.[8]


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;[9] 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.[10]
  • 1837 – With the Treaty of St. Peters, dubbed “White Pine Treaty", lumbering began in the area.[11]
  • 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.[12]
  • 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.
  • 1992 –30-foot tall voyageur statue erected on the north shore of the Snake River, near downtown.[13]
  • 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".[14][15]
  • 2017 – The Pine City boys' basketball team received national attention in The Wall Street Journal for their offensive philosophy to shoot primarily 3-pointers.[16]

Present day[edit]

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[17] and the NAMM Foundation identified it as one of the "Best Communities for Music Education in America" for 2010, 2011 and 2012.[18] In 2016, Movoto named Pine City one of "The 7 Best Towns in Minnesota for LGBT Families",[19] it is also a participant in the Green Steps program by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.[20]


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.[21]


Below is a table of average high and low temperatures throughout the year in Pine City. Of note, Pine City's early years included historic temperature extremes as it was the site of three record-setting cold temperatures[22]:

  • March 2, 1897 (-50° F, March lowest temperature)
  • November 30, 1896 (-45° F, November lowest temperature)
  • December 31, 1898 (-57° F, December lowest temperature)
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)


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)[edit]

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.

Population statistics[edit]

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.[23] 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. 20173,090[4]−1.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

Other demographics[edit]

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%).


After the Census 2010 count of same-sex partners in Minnesota, it was discovered that the Pine City area was home to some of the most concentrated same-sex coupled households of any rural area of the state.[24][25]


Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

While the largest religion in Pine City is none at all, with over half of the community unchurched,[26] it is home to various churches of varying denominations, including:

Pine City churches and their denominations
Church Denomination
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
First Presbyterian Church Presbyterian Church (USA)
Grace Baptist Church Baptists
Hustletown Community Church Nondenominational Christianity
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church Catholic
Journey North Church Gospel, Evangelicalism
Kingdom Hall – Jehovah's Witness Jehovah's Witnesses
Living Hope Christian Center Assemblies of God
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Pine City Evangelical Free Church Evangelical Free Church of America
Hands for Pine City Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ
South Pine Baptist Church Baptists
Zion Lutheran Church Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod


Lakeside Medical Center is one of the largest employers, with 140 employees. MINPACK, Inc. has 130 employees, and Atscott Manufacturing, 100; both have their headquarters in Pine City.[27] Other large employers in the community include Walmart, Product Fabricators, Inc., Broekema Beltway, ISD 578, Therapeutic Services Agency, Pine County, Community Living Options and Lake Superior Laundry.


The Pine City Farmers' Market

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.

Pine City's iconic A&W carhop in Pine Plaza

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, Ace Hardware, stores catering to outdoor enthusiasts and service-related enterprises.


Downtown Pine City street scene, along historic 5th Street

Pine City has one of the most evident downtowns between the Twin Cities and the Twin Ports, situated along the Snake River. 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 historic 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.[28]


The following banks and financial/lending institutions have a presence in Pine City.

Arts and culture[edit]

One of several murals found in Pine City, showcasing local artists.

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 direction of Bradley Mariska, and musical ensembles at Pine City High School give free performances throughout the school year. In 2009, Pine Center for the Arts[29] opened, which is a regional arts center offering 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. Community theater is active in Pine City, called the Heritage Players,[30] 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 and an art festival.[31]

Major annual events[edit]

Historic photo of the Pine County Fair

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

Spring, summer, and fall[edit]


  • Winter Frolic – Jan. 19, 2019
  • BB32 Hockey Tournament – Jan. 19-20, 2019 (10th Annual)
  • Pokegama Lake Ice Fishing Derby hosted by the Snake River Valley Conservation Club – Jan. 27, 2019 (50th Annual)
  • Cross Lake Ice Fishing Derby hosted by the Pine City Lions – Feb. 9, 2019
  • Queen Charlotte's Birthday Ball – Feb. 9, 2019
  • PTCC Shooter's Association Gun Show – Feb. 23-24, 2019 (36th Annual)
  • Holiday Madness and lighted parade – Dec. 6, 2019

Places of interest[edit]

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

Parks and recreation[edit]

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)

Amateur sports[edit]

The Pine City Pirates compete in town team baseball 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 had several state appearances including: 1950, 1952 B 2nd, 1953 B 3rd, 1961 and 1962. The team was defunct for a period before being revived in 2017.


Pine City is located in Minnesota's 8th congressional district, represented for many years by Jim Oberstar, a Democrat and now represented by Rep. Pete Stauber. Pine City is in State Senate District 11, represented by State Senator Jason Rarick thanks to a 2019 Minnesota Senate District 11 special election held Feb. 5, 2019, to replace Tony Lourey as he was appointed by Governor-elect Tim Walz to be the State's next Commissioner of Human Services[33]. A 2019 Minnesota House of Representatives District 11B special election is setup to replace Rarick, as he left the House to become senator.

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.

2019 Mayor and City Council
Mayor Carl Pederson January 2019 to January 2021
At-large Mary Kay Sloan January 2019 to January 2023
At-large Gina Pettie January 2019 to January 2023
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, and first woman mayor, was Jane Robbins.[34]

Law enforcement[edit]

The city's law enforcement agency is the Pine County Sheriff's Department, through contract,[35] with 39 full-time staff including 23 sworn officers; the department has two K-9s, named Chewy and Chaos.[36] Besides performing routine patrol duties, the department performs water, atv, and snowmobile patrol, and search and rescue functions.


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",[37] 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 that is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and it offers technical and general education courses. 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[edit]

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

Junior high schools[edit]

Senior high schools[edit]

  • 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

Colleges and universities[edit]



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
WCMP (AM) 1350 AM Pine City Classic Hits
WCMP-FM 100.9 FM Pine City Country (Cool Country)
WCMP-FM 106.5 FM Pine City Classic Hits
KNOW-FM 94.1 FM Pine City News (Minnesota Public Radio)
WYSG 96.3 FM Hinckley Christian music (LifeTalk Radio)
W248AS 97.5 FM Hinckley Adult Album Alternative (The Current)
KSJN 104.5 FM Hinckley Classical (Minnesota Public Radio)
KBEK 95.5 FM Mora Oldies and Variety (KBEK)
KMKL (FM) 90.3 FM North Branch Christian Contemporary (K-Love)
WLUP 105.3 FM Cambridge Soft adult contemporary (Love)
WZEZ 104.9 FM Balsam Lake Soft adult contemporary (EZ)
WXCX 105.7 FM Siren Classic Country (WILLIE 105.7)



Mass transit[edit]

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[edit]

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,[38] awarded federal and state funding to connect the Sunrise Prairie Trail, near North Branch with the Willard Munger State Trail, near Hinckley.

Health and utilities[edit]

Pine City's Lakeside Medical Center has a full-service clinic and nursing home facility. FirstLight Health System and Fairview each have clinics in Pine City as well. FirstLight 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, its facility encompasses 13,500 square feet (1,250 m2), and a freestanding emergency facility opened in 2015.[39] Fairview Clinic offers mammography, sports medicine and other specialty services on-site. 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.

Notable people[edit]

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

Fictional references[edit]

  • 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.[45][46][47]
  • 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."[48][49]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "2017 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jan 3, 2019.
  3. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  4. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  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 3, 2015. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Upham, Warren (1920). Minnesota Geographic Names: Their Origin and Historic Significance. Minnesota Historical Society. p. 413.
  10. ^
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  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ 2009 Outstanding Community Video
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on January 12, 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  22. ^
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  38. ^
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  41. ^ Minnesota Legislators Past and Present-James Adam Bede
  42. ^ a b c d e f g h i j
  43. ^ Minnesota Legislators Past and Present, Ben Boo
  44. ^
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Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]