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Points of interest in Becker County

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Detroit Lakes, 56501

Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Of course your best bet for information on history is the Becker County Museum and Historical Society. But there are locations throughout the county with points of interest to stop and see.

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n Audubon -- Cook Family Massacre. There isn't much there physically to see, but the story behind is worth the trip.

In 1862, the Small and Cook families moved from the White Earth Reservation, where they worked for the government, to Audubon. One night the Cook family was murdered, thrown into the cellar and the house was set on fire. It was later learned that both families had been murdered.

A monument is located south of Audubon on County Road 11.

• Cormorant area -- Bucks Mills. Although the mill is gone, the dam is still in place and serves as a popular fishing location.

When Simon Buck and William Buck came to Cormorant Lake around 1870, they took claims to land and built a house. The nearest place to purchase goods was Alexandria, about 100 miles away. After returning to McLeod County to pick up their families, John McClelland joined the group coming back to the area, settling on Lake Eunice.

A settlement started at Buck's mill, around 1871.

Later that year, the Buck brothers moved to Lake View Township and built a sawmill. Bucks Mill, located eight miles south of Detroit Lakes, was settled by and named for the brothers.

The dam first washed out in 1874. They rebuilt and continued sawing timber. It washed out again in 1878, and they gave up sawing lumber.

The Pelican Navigation Company had formed by then, and since the Buck brothers didn't have title to water rights, they discontinued the sawmill. Mr. Milton took over the sawmill until 1886, and then sold the mill to Mr. Switzer, who was unsuccessful.

Once the Pelican Navigation Co. was formed, Bucks Mill came back to life. Steamers Lady of the Lakes and the Robert Fulton hauled logs from Bucks Mill to Detroit. In 1905, the dam washed out yet again, and John West built the first concrete dam and locks at Bucks Mills.

Future plans for the mill were never carried out after America joined World War I in 1917, and it became a picnic area after that. In 1920, the dam and locks were destroyed, making the canal a stream. Because of fluctuating water supply though, in 1936, the government rebuilt the dam.

In 1955, the State Conservation Department purchased 29 acres of the old Buck farm and built a fish rearing pond. The trees were all taken out and the river was straightened, forming a large pond to the west of the dam where fish were placed in the summer and fed artificially and then placed in the lakes in the fall.

• Detroit Lakes -- Public Library. On Sept. 9, 1907, "A number of women met with Mrs. Bohlauder. The Bay View Reading Circle, having decided to change its course of study and in having been recommended that a women's club take its place, dissolved, in order that this club might be formed."

That comes from the minutes of the first meeting establishing the Library Club in then Detroit.

After a January 1908 meeting where the women had a state representative come to help them organize, in 1913, the club received a grant from the Carnegie Foundation to build a library building.

The grant built the building, but it was still the women's responsibility to run the library and stock the shelves with books. They also asked the city to take over responsibility of the building because it was a necessary institute for the city of Detroit.

Not only did the women hold books fairs with used books, they also provided new books for sale because there likely wasn't a bookstore in Detroit at the time.

Over time, Friends of the Library has evolved from Library Club to do fund-raising and other sponsored events at the library. The Library Club remains the social aspect of the library.

Since that time, the library has been added onto and upgraded, but the original Carnegie building stands strong.

The building can be viewed and toured at the corner of Washington Avenue and Frazee Street.

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