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Lake Elmo is in Washington County, Minnesota. Minnesota Highway 36 runs east-west along the city’s northern boundaries, while Interstate Highway 94 runs east-west along its southern boundary, and Minnesota Highway 5 is the main route through the city, also running east-west. Although the community is largely rural, as of now, its population is likely to increase sharply because of a new city plan after the loss of a lawsuit against the regional planning authority. Lake Elmo is a suburb of the Minneapolis and St. Paul metropolitan area, surrounded by other suburbs, including Bayport, Oakdale, Oak Park Heights, Pine Springs, and Woodbury. Saint Paul, Minnesota is less than fifteen miles to the southwest. Lake Elmo was part of Oakdale Township until 1951 when the township separated into Oakdale and East Oakdale. In 1925, the commercial district incorporated as a village and, in 1972 the village and East Oakdale Township joined to become the city of Lake Elmo. The area was first settled in 1848, and a post office was established in 1876. The St. Paul, Stillwater & Taylor’s Falls Railroad, which later became the Omaha Road, extended its tracks to the area in 1872, transporting people from the Twin Cities to Lake Elmo. The city’s primary lake was originally known as Bass Lake, but was renamed Lake Elmo in 1879, and the area became a popular summer resort in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In the early 1890s, streetcar companies were extending their lines to lakes close to the cities, but Lake Elmo was left out, and eventually lost much of its popularity as a resort area. Until the recent lawsuit, Lake Elmo had elected to remain rural, and to limit the suburban development that has taken over other Twin Cities suburbs. However, the city is currently planning for strong growth over the next couple of decades, including development of its Historic Old Village area. An 1852 farmhouse that was the first farm in Lake Elmo was intentionally burned to the ground in 2007.

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