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Minnesota Counties

There are eighty-seven Counties in Minnesota. On October 27, 1849 nine large Minnesota Counties were created. Among them were Benton, Dahkotah, Itasca, Ramsey, Mahkahta, Pembina, Wabashaw, Washington, and Wahnata. Of those Benton, Dakota, Itasca, Ramsey, Wabasha, and Washington still exist as their original name. With the creation of Kittson County on March 9, 1878, Pembina County no longer existed. When Minnesota was organized as a state, 57 of the present 87 Counties were established. The last county to be created was Lake of the Woods County in 1923

Otter Tail County, Minnesota

Otter Tail County Education, Geography, and HistoryOtter Tail County, Minnesota Courthouse

Otter Tail County is a county located in the state of Minnesota. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 57,303. Its county seat is Fergus Falls. The county was formed in 1858 and organized in 1868.

Otter Tail County comprises the Fergus Falls, MN Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Otter Tail County Name

Named for Otter Tail Lake. Otter Tail is the translation of the Ojibway name for the lake, characterized by a long, narrow sand bar in the shape of an otter's tail.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Otter Tail County History

Native Americans used the survey area for hunting and fishing and had permanent dwelling sites. Two Native American tribes were in constant conflict. The Dakota (Sioux) were being pushed from their home area by the Ojibwa (Chippewa) during the late 18th century and early 19th century. Burial mounds and artifacts can still be found. Some of the oldest remains of Native Americans were found near Pelican Rapids, Minnesota. The remains, nicknamed Minnesota Girl, were dated at about 11,000 B.C. (Otter Tail County Historical Museum).

The first white men to enter the county were French and British fur traders. Efforts were made to set up trading posts on the Leaf Lakes and Otter Tail Lake. In the late 19th century, most of the towns were built along the railroad lines. Lumber and agriculture were the major industries in the county at that time. The pine and hardwood forests, transportation system, and markets were instrumental in the development of Fergus Falls into a lumber center.

In 1870, the population of the county was about 2,000. At that time the principal languages spoken in the county were Norwegian, Swedish, German, and English. Otter Tail County was established in March 1858 by a legislative act. It was organized in 1868. The original county seat was Ottertail City.

The people of Fergus Falls organized a new county named Holcomb. In 1872, a legislative act abolished Holcomb County, added additional townships to the west, and established Fergus Falls as the county seat of Otter Tail County. There are 62 townships in the county. The county is named for Otter Tail Lake and the Otter Tail River.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,225 square miles (5,760 km2), of which 1,972 square miles (5,110 km2) are land and 252 square miles (650 km2) (11%) are covered by water.

Otter Tail is one of 17 Minnesota savanna region counties with more savanna soils than either forest or prairie soils. According to the official web site, Otter Tail County contains over 1000 lakes and two Minnesota state parks, Maplewood State Park and Glendalough State Park. The highest point in Otter Tail County is Inspiration Peak in the Leaf Mountains, at 1750 feet above sea level.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Becker County (north)
  • Todd County (southeast)
  • Douglas County (south)
  • Grant County (southwest)
  • Wilkin County (west)
  • Clay County (northwest)


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