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Named for the north branch of the Sunrise River, which flows through the city, North Branch, Minnesota is in Chisago County, in the central eastern part of the state. Interstate Highway 35 runs north-south through the city, intersecting with Minnesota Highway 95. Branch is just south of the city, and Spring Lake is northwest of North Branch, although Branch is a part of North Branch now. Other nearby localities include Blomford, Bodum, Harris, Stacy, Stanley, and Sunrise. Cambridge is thirteen miles west, Wyoming is thirteen miles south, Rush City is fourteen miles north, and St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin is twenty-four miles east of the city. North Branch Township was incorporated in 1861, and the citizens of the township continued to operate under one municipal government when North Branch incorporated as a township-sized village in 1881. However, in 1901, a one square-mil area of the township separated from the original village and reincorporated itself as the Village of North Branch, while the township renamed itself Branch Township. In 1961, Branch became an incorporated village, surrounded by the village of North Branch. North Branch became more densely populated while most Branch residents lied on homes of one acre or larger, including some farms. Both Branch and North Branch became cities in 1974. After a couple of failed attempts at consolidation, the two cities became one in 1994, and Branch became a neighborhood within the city of North Branch, expanding the population of the city by more than three times at the time of the 2000 census.

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