We were five minutes outside of Pine River, Minnesota. The date was April 2000. I had picked up a travel brochure in Walker with the title of “Pine River, Minnesota – A Visitors Guide to the Pine and Lakes Region.” In the upper right corner is said “Free Take One!”
As we were driving along I was turning the pages and came to page 10, “A History of Pine River.” I started to read out loud to my hubby.
“Pine River owes much of its history to the pine, particularly the white pine. The pine forest stretching across the state from the shores of the “big sea water” to the plains of the “American desert” contained thousands of square miles of the finest virgin timber east of the Pacific Northwest.
Found near the center of this mammoth forest preserve, located in the giant forest-fertile crescent formed by the headwaters of the Mississippi River and flowing through what many termed “the richest stand of timber in the Old Northwest,” is a river memorialized by early explorers as “The Pine.”
And at the place where its two major tributaries, the South Fork and Norway Brook merge to form this majestic stream a peppery Scotsman founded a trading post in 1873, then a ranch followed by a hotel. Later came a railroad, then a town – and finally a prosperous city.
Within two years after the Northern Pacific Railway had bridged the Mississippi River at “The Crossing” (now Brainerd), George Angus Barclay established the first permanent trading post on the Pine River. From this site grew the village, which eventually took the name of the river and became “Pine River.”
– from “Logsleds to Snowmobiles”
Little did I know that a door had opened and my genealogical life would never be the same.
Welcome to the Barclay’s of Pine River, Cass County, Minnesota.