Benton Co. History: Why Isn’t Sauk Rapids on Both Sides of River
SAUK RAPIDS -- Why is it that Sauk Rapids is only on one side of the Mississippi River when its neighbors Sartell and St. Cloud have land on both sides?
Benton County Historical Society Executive Director Mary Ostby says that wasn't always the case. She says going back as far as the 1850s Sauk Rapids owned land on the west bank that most locals knew as Briggsville.
Briggsville was in the early years when Sauk Rapids was first starting up because Sauk Rapids was of course the first central Minnesota city. They were going to build a Sauk Rapids Water and Power Plant and put a dam in the river. Henceforth they needed land on both sides of the river. When this was going on in the 1850s Stearns County wasn't even a county yet.
Ostby says Briggsville basically stretched from just south of the old Sauk Rapids bridge up to where the Sauk River flows into the Mississippi River. Heim's Mill was actually in another town at that time known as Sauk City.
While the land was actually owned by Sauk Rapids it became known to the locals as Briggsville.
All of a sudden W.H. Lord comes in and is starting up Briggsville again in the 1930s, but between 1890 and the 1930s is where the Sauk Rapids dam project pretty much goes defunct, because Sartell starts its dam project up the river and then Sauk Rapids has no need to finish its dam.
Briggsville's heyday was in the late 1800s, and then it had a resurgence in the 1930s. There was a newspaper article in 1934 that stated real estate business shows a boom in Briggsville. Its main street was called Foley Street.
After the Sartell dam was finished, Sauk Rapids found it was too expensive to maintain the land on the west side of the river with fire services and public utilities. So, in 1948 they officially took it off the books.
Briggsville area popped up again in 1968 as the government was rerouting the highways in the area, and again Sauk Rapids put an end to any claim they had to that land.
So, on the west side of the river there once was St. Cloud, then further north Briggsville, then Sauk City which is where the Heims Mill is, then Sartell next to the dam.
Once a month Ostby is on the News @ Noon Show talking about the forgotten history of Benton County (although technically this month we're actually talking about Stearns County:)