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Carlton, Minnesota is the seat of government for Carlton County. The community began in 1870, when the Northern Pacific Railroad completed a stretch of track linking Duluth to St. Paul. The town began as temporary shacks for the railroad workers, and was known as Northern Pacific Junction. When the town was incorporated in 1881, it was renamed Carlton for the former Minnesota State Senator Reuben Carlton. In 2015, Carlton absorbed the nearby town of Thomson, located along the Saint Louis River, which had been founded in 1870. The city is served by Minnesota Highways 45 and 210 and County Roads 1 and 3. Carlton is five miles south of Cloquet, and twenty-one miles southwest of Duluth. Other nearby communities include Esko, Otter Creek, Scanlon, Scotts Corner, and Wrenshall.

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