The Rich History of Clear Lake, Minnesota
Clear Lake is a town of 641 people in Sherburne County located 13 miles southeast of St. Cloud at the intersection of Highway 10 and Highway 24. Clear Lake is the focus of this Small Town series on WJON. I talked with longtime Clear Lake resident and author Bud Stimler and Dave McDonald and Jennifer Dierkes from McDonalds Meats.
The first settler came to Clear Lake in 1850 according to Stimler. He says the town's name can be traced back to the first settler who settled on a lake 2 miles from Clear Lake with the same name. The lake is located on County Road 8 between St. Cloud and Clearwater.
Stimler says the height of Clear Lake was from 1890 to 1940 with a population around 300 at its peak. He says the bulk of the population who support the town live in rural areas around Clear Lake. Clear Lake was incorporated in 1890. He says people started settling in Clear Lake because the land was available in the 1850s. He says many of Clear Lake's ancestors came from St. Augusta and just moved across the Mississippi River because they had big families and needed more land. Stimler says there is a lot of German and Scandinavian heritage in the Clear Lake population. He says in 1866 the railroad came through spurring even more growth. Alandson Potter came with the railroad and is credited with laying out the city of Clear Lake including starting a depot and hotel.
Stimler says Clear Lake had two hotels, a train depot, implement dealer, car dealership, general stores, canning factory, pickle factory, a bank and a high school. St. Marcus Catholic Church is also located in Clear Lake along Highway 24. The high school in Clear Lake was located across from the Catholic Church. The old high school building is still there and is now an apartment building. Clearview Elementary is in Clear Lake today along Highway 24. It is a K-5 school in the St. Cloud School District.
McDonalds Meats has a long history of operating in downtown Clear Lake. In 2014 McDonalds Meats celebrated 100 years in business. John Leo McDonald purchased the Fred Mosford Meat Market in 1914. Richard McDonald took over ownership of the business in 1954 from his father before Dave McDonald became the 3rd generation owner when he bought the business from his dad. Jennifer Dierkes and Travis McDonald have been operating McDonalds Meats since 2009. Travis is Dave's son and Jennifer is Dave's step daughter.
Dave McDonald says in the early days it was a dry goods store and grocery store until 1986 when he took over the business and focused on it being a Meat Market. He indicated it was McDonalds grocery store but with Coborns Grocery coming into the area he thought focusing on the meat market was the way to go. Dave says his kids and he would hand out meat samples to the traffic coming by on Highway 24 to build interest. He says the traffic heading up north has been great for their business throughout the years.
If you'd like to listen to my conversation with Bud Stimler, Dave McDonald and Jennifer Dierkes they are available below. Bud Stimler's book is called "The Life and Times of Clear Lake Township".
Dave McDonald and Jennifer Dierkes
Minnesota Area Codes as Work Shoes