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Columbus, Minnesota was Columbus Township until 2006, when it was incorporated as a city, largely in response to concerns about potential annexation by the adjacent city, Forest Lake. Other nearby communities include Lino Lakes, Ham Lake, East Bethel, and Wyoming. Rice Creek flows through the city, and the Carlos Avery Wildlife Area is in the north-central and west-central parts of the city. County Roads 18, 19, and 23 are the chief routes through the city, while Interstate Highway 35 splits into 35-E and 35-W in the southeast corner of Columbus, a junction known as the Forest Lake Split. Although Columbus is a very new city, the area was settled in 1855, when John Kleiner and J.H. Batzie came separately, and a village known as Columbus was platted in 1856. By 1857, the village had a hotel, store, blacksmith shop, saw mill, a turners shop, wagon maker, gunsmith, and about a dozen homes, as well as a school house. Columbus became a township in 1857 but, although several efforts were made, the township was unable to develop a town center. In the 1860s, Columbus lost a bid to become the Anoka County seat, and it was passed over as a potential route for the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad.



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