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Detroit Lakes, Minnesota is the county seat of Becker County. It is served by US Highways 10 and 59, as well as Minnesota Highway 34. Detroit Lakes is about forty-five miles east of Fargo, North Dakota, the nearest metropolitan region. Nearby communities include Butler, Callaway, Cormorant, Dunvilla, Evergreen, Frazee, Lake Park, Luce, Perham, Richwood, Rochert, Rollag, Shoreham, Tansem, Vergas, and Westbury. Originally known as Detroit, the community was founded by Colonel George Johnston in 1871, and was concentrated north of the railroad tracks, extending south to Detroit Lake. The community grew quickly as a station along the Northern Pacific Railroad, and it was designated the seat of government for the county in 1877, and incorporated in 1881. By 1884, there were several businesses, a couple of hotels, a bank, newspaper, and an opera house. As a result of postal mixups between Detroit, Minnesota and Detroit, Michigan, the city’s name was changed to Detroit Lakes in 1926. Today, the community is heavily dependent on outdoor recreation and tourism, its population almost doubling in the summer months, and its economy is enriched by seasonal population increases, with tourism being its primary industry, although agriculture is still important. Other than a slight decrease in the 1960s and in the 1990s. the city’s population has increased each census period.


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