Column: Naming Anoka County places after 1870

Anoka County was organized on May 23, 1857. At the same time, Manomin County was formed, comprising only 18 sections of land. Abram Fridley was the chairman of the county board. Because the county was so small, it was very difficult to provide the expected services. In 1870 Manomin County was annexed to Anoka County and became Manomin Township. It was later renamed Fridley Township in 1879.

The land comprising Manomin Township became Fridley, Spring Lake Park, Columbia Heights and Hilltop. Fridley was incorporated in 1949 and every year that anniversary in celebrated with 49er Days. It became a city in 1957.

Spring Lake Park is a particularly unique town. It began as a neighborhood that spilled over the southeast corner of Anoka County into Ramsey County. When it incorporated as a village in 1953, the location of the fire department dictated an unusual boundary structure. A small portion of Spring Lake Park is officially in Ramsey County. It incorporated as a city in 1974.

Columbia Heights was a village by 1898. A contest was held to name the town and no one is sure why Columbia was so appealing. Perhaps the reason was the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery had been celebrated a few years earlier. Or perhaps more locally minded citizens knew the area as the Columbia Park stop on the street car line. The Heights portion may refer to the hills around 47th and Stinson-the highest point of elevation in Anoka, Hennepin, and Ramsey Counties. Whatever the reason, the contest winner was awarded $50. It became a city in 1921.

Hilltop is also a unique community, measuring only eight blocks. It is the smallest of Anoka County’s 21 communities and is completely surrounded by Columbia Heights. A controversy over restrictions on mobile homes caused the people of the park to organize into their own village, and to separate from Columbia Heights in 1956.

In 1974, the Minnesota Legislature changed the status of all villages in Anoka County (and other counties as well) into cities. Therefore almost half of Anoka County’s cities were incorporated that year. Ham Lake, for example, became a village for only one year in 1973, and became a city in 1974.

Andover, Bethel, Circle Pines, Centerville, East Bethel, Hilltop, Lexington, Lino Lakes, Hilltop, Ramsey and St. Francis also incorporated at that time.

Maria King is a volunteer with the Anoka County Historical Society.

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