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The city of Osakis is primarily in Douglas County, but a small portion extends into Todd County. The city is situated on the southern shores of Lake Osakis, with Minnesota Highway 27 serving as the main route through the city. Faille Lake forms a portion of the eastern limits to the city. Nearby communities include Alexandria, Belle River, Carlos, Forada, Gutches Grove, Little Sauk, Nelson, Sauk Centre, Villard, Westport, and West Union. The Lake Osakis area was home to the Dakota Indians as early as seven or eight hundred years ago, and evidence of village sites have been found along the lake. The Chippewas and Ojibwe moved into the area, and the area became a battle ground between the Dakotas and the Ojibwe. The Dakota called the lake O-Za-Tee, meaning fork in the road or river. The Ojibwe knew it as Oh-za-kees, meaning Place of the Sauk, as the Sauk Indians inhabited the area for a short time. When Nicolous Nicollet published his map of the region in the 1800s, he referred to the lake as Osakis. The first recorded white settlement of the area was that of Mary Gordon and her family, who settled on the Didier Corner in 1857, building a log home that became a stage stop on the road from St. Paul to Fort Abercrombie. A blacksmith shop and store opened near the inn, and other settlers occupied surrounding land. During the Dakota War of 1862, the area was deserted, as settlers fled to Sauk Centre and St. Cloud. When the conflict was over, Donald Stevenson acquired a claim originally made by John Potter, opening a grist mill and a freight line that ran from St. Cloud to Fort Abercrombie, then had the village platted and helped to organize Douglas County, although he moved on to the Dakota Territory not long afterward. The railroad came to Osakis in 1878, providing a means for local farmers to ship their wheat, potatoes and livestock to market. In recent years, tourism has become an important industry, its population tripling in the summer months.


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