Lake Crystal History


Pavilion on Crystal Lake
South View down Main Street
Loon Lake & Crystal Lake Canal


In the mid-1800s, the land where the City of Lake Crystal currently sits belonged to the Dakota and Sioux Indians. In July of 1851 at Traverse de Sioux, 35 Indian chiefs approved a treaty with the United States Government, signing away approximately 24 million acres of land located in the southern and western Minnesota Territory.


The winter of 1851-52 witnessed the founding of several townsites along the Minnesota River Valley including Mankato, South Bend and Judson to name a few. That same year, two families from small towns near Ithaca, New York, left their homes and traveled west. In the spring of 1854, William Riley Robinson and Lucius Hunt traveled from Wisconsin to visit Blue Earth County where they found what they thought was a good place to settle near the Blue Earth River. Hunt and Robinson returned for their families and headed back to settle in what is now considered Lake Crystal. Hunt and Robinson took claims on the south shore of Crystal and Lily Lakes, each taking a strip one mile long and half mile wide. What is now main street was the dividing line between the two properties. 


More people began to settle in the area; however, the tiny settlement on the banks of Crystal Lake may never have developed if not for the introduction of the Valley Railroad in May of 1869. The site surveyed and platted for the railroad was named Lake Crystal by General Judson W. Bishop of St. Paul, the railway's engineer. The growth of the settlement was accelerated when Hunt and Robinson gave away lots to prospective settlers. By December of of 1869, Lake Crystal possessed a grain elevator, hotel, school house, grocery store, drug store, hardware store, two general stores, a harness shop, a copper shop, and a doctor's office. On February 24, 1870, it was incorporated by the Legislature as a village. Lake Crystal continued to grow in the late 1800s with the addition of a school, boat club, and even steamer excursions around Crystal Lake.  


Over the past century, Lake Crystal has continued to grow and now has over 2,500 residents. In 2000, a new recreation facility opened in town featuring a pool with waterslides, gym, walking track and more. in 2007, a new high school was built west of town which houses the middle school and high school. 




For detailed information regarding the history of Lake Crystal, please visit Blue Earth County Historical Society.


Lake Crystal History Facebook Page

Mankato Free Press: "Two Lake Crystal Young Men Activating the Town's History Sharing"