anoka county history

Have you seen that TV ad that says, “People don’t have to think about where electricity comes from, they just flip the switch and the light comes on.” That made me think a lot about when the city Anoka first got electricity, which was about 1889. That was when a company in Minneapolis called Sykes and Company contracted with Anoka to install a water system of close to 5 miles and 50 water hydrants for fire protection. Along with that came fourteen arc lights for downtown. They were to be 2,000 candle power and would be on until 1 a.m. Compare that with what we have today.

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It is a big deal for fishermen when the ice goes out on Lake Minnetonka and all the other popular fishing lakes. It is so important to the resort owners that make their living off of the anglers as well. To have the ice out by the fishing opener is of great importance to the fisherman and the businesses that rely on them.

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Those of us who live at the Walker Plaza in downtown Anoka had front row seats for a big, historic event in March and April. All four floors on the Monroe Street side watched the old Goodrich Pharmacy and RiverWay Clinic being demolished and hauled away.

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If you look though old issues of the Blaine newspaper, around 1972, you’ll find that grass and peat fires kept the fire department hopping. Starting in May and continuing through the summer, almost every week’s issue lists at least one or two incidents. Oftentimes children were suspected of being the instigators. Before the northern suburbs filled in, there were lots of open spaces and low-lying bogs that provided tinder for these nuisance conflagrations. One such fire-prone area was a peaty expanse on the east side of University Avenue north of 109th Avenue. Today it’s the site of Park of the Four Seasons mobile home community, but prior to 1973 when Four Seasons opened, it was a good place for fires to start.

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Every few years, a history buff writes some words for this newspaper about the old Anoka County town of Itasca (sometimes spelled Itaska). It was located on the Anoka side of the Mississippi River near the Sherburne County line. For a few years, in the middle of the nineteenth century, it looked like it might amount to something.

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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.

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