About Turtle River, Minnesota


The city and township of Turtle River take their names from the Turtle River that flows through Turtle River Lake, and is the most northern tributary of the Mississippi.

In 1899 Fred DeSilver purchased land near Turtle River Lake. From that purchase, a lumber-boom town was founded, including a hotel and several stores. When the 1901 survey for the Minnesota and International Railway extension passed through the present site, merchants and residents moved their buildings to the 1898 homestead claim of Simon E. Bright.

The post office operated 1899-1944, with Nels Otterstad as the first postmaster; he was also a land surveyor and timber cruiser. By 1910, two large fires had destroyed most buildings on the main street.

Currently, a walk through the woods surrounding Old Salem Hall will reveal the ruins of this historical township such as the old schoolhouse with a nearby water pump that still works.

Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

Nature and Activities

Turtle River Lake is a natural, sparsely populated habitat for waterfowl such as Bald Eagles, ducks, and geese. The pristine water conditions and walking distance from Old Salem Hall invite swimming and fishing from the shore. In the winter, why not go for a nature walk across the lake or get to Old Salem Hall via the nearby historical railroad-turned-snowmobile trail?

The dense and beautiful pine forests surrounding the hall make the perfect location for a romantic outdoor wedding and the open outdoor space is perfect for any outdoor event. Don't forget to watch for deer, birds, and other wildlife!

Turtle River is also within short driving distance to Bemidji State Park, Itasca State Park, and the Chippewa National Forest.

Surrounding Area

Bemidji, the first town on the Mississippi, is only 15 minutes away and has many hotels, restaurants, and stores. Bemidji is nestled around Lake Bemidji and has a large statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe, the legendary lumberjack and his blue-ox companion. Bemidji State University is a popular place to enrich your experience with art galleries, musical performances, and a picturesque campus. Native American culture is second only to the lake culture in Bemidji, creating a great place to buy souvenirs, wild rice, and clothing.


Please contact Sue Carlson at (218) 586-2046 or Joanne Krause at (218) 586-2652 for more information.