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The focus of this category is on Rock Creek, Minnesota, a small city in southern Pine County.

Its boundaries extend east and west from a point south of Pine City and north of Rush City, and from West Rock, west of I-35, to the St. Croix River and the Wisconsin border. Although the population of Rock Creek was just over 1,600 at the time of the 2010 census, it is the largest city by area in Pine County. Rock Creek is largely rural, and without a post office. Businesses and residents of Rock Creek receive their mail through the Pine City post office.

Prior to the white settlement of the area, it was inhabited by the Dakota. During the 1500s, the Chippewa or the Ojibway came to the region, forced out of their homelands by the Iroquois, and there were frequent battles between the tribes.

After the US-sanctioned Chippewa and Sioux treaties of 1838, white settlers and lumbermen began to come into the area.

To encourage settlement of the Minnesota Territory, President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act of 1862, which 160 acres to anyone over the age of twenty-one who would live upon it, and make improvements. At the same time, railroads were laying track into the region.

Rock Creek was first established as a lumbering and milling operation, aided by the railroads, which were necessary in order to bring the lumber to market. As was usually the case with mill sites, a settlement grew up there. Long's Spur was at the site of a railroad spur about a mile south of Rock Creek. The mill was owned by men named Long and Winston. Before long, there was a store, boarding house, stables, and a schoolhouse there.

Additional small settlements grew up around other mills in the area that was to become Rock Creek. Two of these were known as Dowlan's Siding and Milburn.

With the depletion of its conifers, lumbering gave way to agriculture, and wheat became the primary cash crop, as well as for flour for home consumption. Wheat was hauled to Sunrise, or to Grantsburg when the Saint Croix River was frozen over.

When more land was cleared, it was found that potatoes did well and, as the populations of Minneapolis and Saint Paul grew, there was a good market for potatoes. Rock Creek had four potato warehouses along a railroad spur that went to the southwest. They were owned by Rush City Mercantile, Hinckley Produce, Beggs and Company of North Branch, and Erickson Brothers.

However, due to shallow top soil, production fell off the a point where growing potatoes was no longer profitable. Rock Creek began shipping out hay and cordwood. Because of the abundance of hay, dairy production became an important industry. Butter, eggs, and poultry became a bartering product. In time, cooperatives were organized, and local farmers were able to ship, butter, poultry, and veal to market by rail. In 1899, the Rock Creek Cooperative Creamery was organized, and it remained in operation until 1969 when it was sold to Land O Lakes Creamery, which closed it soon after.

The first general store in Rock Creek was probably one built by Hewson and Scanlan in 1878. It was sold to the Erickson Brothers in 1890, to A.M. Challeen in 1905, and to the Farmer's Cooperative Mercantile in 1910. The Farmer's Cooperative Mercantile sold to A.P. Erickson in 1915, and it became known as Erickson and Son. In 1918, Gust Erickson bought out his father. It remained in the Erickson family until 1945, when it was sold to Charles and Elsie Erickson, who were not related. In 1962, it was sold to Lawrence Petersen.

Rock Creek was named for the creek that flowed through the area, and was settled soon after the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad was completed in 1869. A railroad station was established around 1873, and John Holmberg was the first railroad agent at Rock Creek. In 1893, a larger depot was built on the north side of Rock Creek Road, which burned in 1918, and was replaced in 1919. The station was closed in 1952, and the depot was demolished in 1965.

The first post office in Rock Creek opened in 1872, with Captain Enoch Horton as postmaster.

As for churches, the Methodists held services in the Rock Creek schoolhouse in 1889, and a Methodist Episcopal Church was built later that year. In 1885, the Swedish Baptist Church was organized. They built a church building between Rush City and Rock Creek in 1889. In 1911, they moved to Rock Creek, becoming East Rock Creek Baptist Church.

In 1874, the Roosevelt School was the fourth district organized in Pine County. Beginning as a one-room schoolhouse, it was replaced by a two-room structure in 1905. In 1967, the district merged with Pine City.

Several other District schools were organized in the late 1800s, all of which either closed or merged with Pine City in the late 1900s. Rock Creek students now attend school in Pine City.

 

 

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