-City of Ottertail-
prior to 1858 Otter Tail City was settled by Donald McDonald who
trapped and traded with the Indians. When Otter Tail County was
first organized Otter Tail City (as it was called then) was the first
After 1858 and being named the county seat, a
branch of the US Land Office was located in Otter Tail City, but this
was raided by the Indians during an uprising in 1862. The
settlement was practically deserted until about 1868 when RL Frazee
decided it would be a good point for a saw mill.
In 1870 the
Northern Pacific Railway was running their survey west from Crow Wing
and Otter Tail City was one of the towns through which the railroad was
to pass. With construction crews making their headquarters in
village, hotels, stores and saloons soon began to appear. The
town grew to 1500. It was said there were 36 saloons in the
A flour mill was erected by Marcus Shaw, who was the
first county treasurer of Otter Tail County, but with mis-management of
county funds a shortage occurred and the difference was made by Mr.
Frazee, his bondsman, the owner of the sawmill. Shaw resigned
turned his flour mill over to Frazee.
In 1871 the Railroad
wanted to place their depot and sidetracks on land owned by a man named
Cathcart, but the parties couldn’t agree on the value of the land so
the Railroad re-routed their line via Perham then missing the county
seat by about 10 miles.
In 1872 the county seat was moved to
Fergus Falls. That began the migration of the
wanted to be established in a county seat. Buildings were
and Otter Tail City practically ceased to exist until about 1905 when
another chance to grow seemed to appear. Ottertail
was incorporated on May 3rd, 1904 in an election of 35 for and 8
against incorporation as a village.
A division of
the “Soo-Line” was surveyed and planned to pass through, but again the
town site owners could not agree and the line was re-surveyed missing
“Otter Tail City” by a mile. The
new town site of “Ottertail” was
platted to the east (what now is called
“old town.”). A remnant
of the original town-site exists today. The Saint Paul House,
former hotel and still being used as a residence stands as a monument
to days gone by.
Consisting of nearly 3200 acres, approximately
5 sections Ottertail was platted when
pioneers saw great
expansion. Today visitors will find “old town” of Ottertail
existing on Highway 108 about a mile from US Hwy 78 and the portion of
“new town” right along 78. A variety of businesses provide
basic services of banking, gas, groceries and dining to the residents
of Ottertail and the City of Ottertail maintains fire and rescue
services as well other municipal anemities. Along with a
atmosphere and friendly people you are sure to enjoy your visit and
truly understand that in Ottertail…it's just the beginning.
Ottertail is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Provider
|239 Hwy 78 N.
PO Box 245
Mondays - Thursdays
|January - December:
Thursday of each
month - 7:00pm