Jean Baptiste Cadotte Jr., while wintering at a Northwest Company trading post at the junction of the Red Lake and Clearwater rivers in present day Red Lake Falls is visited by geographer and surveyor David Thompson in March of 1798.
In 1863 a treaty was signed between the Red Lake and Pembina bands of the Chippewa Indians and the U.S. government at the Old Crossing of the Red Lake River opening eleven million acres of land to eventual settlement.
In 1876 Pierre Bottineau, the famous Metis guide, brought the first settlers to the area, 119 families of French Canadian descent from St. Paul and Canada who founded the towns of Red Lake Falls and Gentilly, in what was then Polk County.
Ernest Buse and Otto Kankel built the first mill in the county on the Clearwater River in Red Lake Falls highlighting the abundant water power that attracted industry and settlers to the area.
Red Lake County (including present-day Pennington County) separated from Polk County on Dec. 26, 1896 with Red Lake Falls as the county seat,
The Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad (Soo Line) was built through the eastern part of Red Lake County in 1904 giving rise to the communities of Plummer and Brooks.
A second branch of the Soo Line Railroad enters the county from the east along which the community of Oklee is founded.
Pennington County separates from Red Lake County after construction had begun on a new court house in Red Lake Falls which is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
On Aug. 13, 1918 some of the last remaining pre-prohibition saloons in northern Minnesota are closed by the Minnesota Public Safety Commission in a surprise raid on Red Lake County.
Coya Knutson of Oklee in 1956 became the first woman from the State of Minnesota to be elected to Congress of the United States where she served in the House of Representatives for two terms.
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