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Situated at the confluence of the Rum River and its West Branch, the city of Princeton, Minnesota is in both Mille Lacs and Sherburne counties, although the majority of its population is in Mille Lacs County. Princeton is about fifty miles north of Minneapolis and thirty miles east of Saint Cloud, at the intersection of Highways Minnesota Highway 95 and US Highway 169, which are the chief routes through the city. Nearby communities include Bradford, Carmody, Crown, Estes Brook, Glendorado, Orrock, Pease, Pine Brook, Spencer Brook, Wyanett, and Zimmerman. The Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge is southwest of the city. The first white people came to the area in 1847 looking for pine timber, and they found a large forest of white pine. The first home was built in 1849, although it was more of a stopping place. The next building was a built in 1854, and acquired by A.B. Damon, who is considered the city’s first permanent white settler. Damon’s claim once included all of the present townsite. The city was named for John S. Price, whose sawmill manufactured lumber from the pine harvested in the area. The village was platted in 1855, but the settlement was part of Princeton Township until 1877, when it separated. A post office was established in 1856. When Mille Lacs County was created in 1860, its county seat was in Princeton until 1920, and the county fairgrounds remains there. The railroad came through in 1886, and mail came by train until 1930. By 1890, agriculture was replacing lumber as the area’s chief economic factor, wheat being the main product, but potatoes were also grown. By the early 1900s, Princeton was the largest primary potato market in the Northwest. However, by 1926, the soil had become exhausted for potato growing. Brickmaking began in 1889 when a nearby community known as Brickton was developed. Although never a large town, Princeton’s population has decreased only once, in 1930, and then by less than three percent.


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