Although Coon Rapids as a separate municipality has existed only since 1952 when it was incorporated as a village form the township of Anoka, its history as a community goes back more than a hundred years. Anoka township was organized June 30, 1857 when Anoka County was organized. The city of Anoka was set off from township on March 2, 1978 when it was incorporated.
Agriculture was the principal source of income in the early years, the farms ranging from ninety acres of C.W. Bryant to six hundred acres owned by John Dunn. Other pioneer settlers of the township were Jared Benson, Charles Barney, John R. Barrett, John Coleman, Albert J. Caswell, H.L. Cheever, Geo. R. Campbell, John Farrin, James Green, John Hines, James H. McCauley, C.H. Parlin, John Ives, Andrew P. Reidhead, Geo. Smith, Jacob Schwate, James p. Taylor, C.M. Underwood and F.H. Worcester.
The center of activities in the community was first known as Coon Creek, but with the proposal to build a dam at the front of the Coon Creek Rapids the name Coon Rapids soon evolved. Construction of the huge dam began in 1912 and it was finally completed in 1914. The influx of construction works for the dam project caused several stores, dance hall, billiard halls and the likes to be built near the site.
Originally the Red River Ox Cart trail, later to be the U.S. Military Road and still later the East River Road was a pioneer trail for early travelers. It still may be called “Main St.” of Coon Rapids.
In the 1870’s the Coon Creek Post Office, was set up along the tracks of the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Railway. A.J. Caswell was the first postmaster. In 1900 a Postal Route from Anoka was established, the first carrier being Forrest Hunter. He traveled the route for thirty years.
Brick manufacturing was the first Coon Rapids industry. Around 1881 Dr. D.C. Dunham, of Anoka, established the Anoka Pressed Brick and Terra Cotta Co. It was located near the point where the East River Road branches off from Highway 10. About three years later a man named Benson started a brickyard north of the railroad tracks. In 1925 the Minnesota Ceramics Company went into operation. It lasted about ten years.
The first telephone service for the Coon Rapids area was through the efforts of a farmers Cooperative line. The farmers cut poles from the Tamarack swamps and put them up and the telephone company finished the line. This was in 1904. In 1950 Northwestern telephone Company agreed to extend lines from Anoka to Coon Rapids.
The population of Anoka township (Coon Rapids) in 1880 was 261. In the next fifty years (1930) only 509 residents were added to the population. It went to 1,018 in 1940 to 2,563 in 1950. In 1965 the city of Coon Rapids was not only the fastest growing municipality but also the largest at 26,386. (This information is from Anoka Union Centennial Issue 1865-1965)
Newspapers on Microfilm:
Coon Rapids Herald, May 17, 1963-Jun. 24, 1988
Coon Rapids News and Views, Mar. 15, 1958-Sept. 20, 1958