Historic Ranier Tour

Historic walking tour of Ranier, MN

Historic Ranier Tour

International Falls, Minnesota 56649, United States

Created By: Koochiching County Historical Society

Tour Information

Created by Koochiching County Historical Society, this tour of Ranier highlights the places and people that made Ranier what it is today. Incorporated in 1908, the small village of Ranier began as a lively pioneer town filled with people eager to make their mark in the northland. Businesses sprang up all over Ranier, including hotels, grocers, saloons, and brothels. During prohibition, this little boom town gained a gnarly reputation. Illegal booze was the name of the game and everyone in Ranier was playing. Being the port of entry into Canada and being situated on Rainy Lake made for a prime playing field for bootleggers. After the Great Depression, however, life began to slow in Ranier, but its wild personality persisted. Many of the buildings highlighted in this tour no longer exist, but the legacy of the people who occupied those buildings is still felt today.

In the words of the late and beloved Ted Hall, "There's nothing particularly special about Ranier physically, in fact it's sort of a drab little town, but the place has a special spirit, a nice independence. The people are a special kind. You have to have grit just to stay here."

*Please be aware and respectful of private property.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

Big Vic is a big monument with a big story. In 1971, legislation authorizing the establishment of Voyageurs National Park was passed by the US Congress and signed by President Richard Nixon. State and local governments donated land holding... Read more
The Ranier School was built in 1909 at a cost of $2,340.00. It was a two-story structure with three classrooms, a small library, and an auditorium. The original heating system consisted of two wood burning stoves, which was eventually repla... Read more
From the early 1920s to 1965, Dan McCarthy operated the McCarthy Fish Company. Commercial fisherman would sell their fish to the fish company where they were inspected, re-packed in ice, and shipped by railroad to customers across the count... Read more
The Ranier Community building, built in the 1930s has undergone several renovations to keep it functional throughout the years and is also home to Ranier's City Office.
This was the original location of the Townsite Office of Ranier. It later became a butcher shop.
In 1910, the American Tramways Company built a streetcar line from International Falls to Ranier. They operated two electric cars and one gasoline powered vehicle. One way fare between the two cities was 5 cents. The line went out of busine... Read more
The American State Bank in Ranier was opened in 1913 and was one of the businesses that closed due to the Great Depression. Since then, many other businesses have occupied the space.
Bergstrom & Mallory Hardware waws one of first buildings to be erected in town and it was where the vote to incorporate Ranier as a city was held on March 17, 1908. Mallory also served as Ranier's first post master.
The Pioneer Hotel and Restraunt was a popular establishment in the early years of Ranier.
The Duluth Street dock was the city dock of Ranier. With the coming of the railroad in 1907, Ranier quickly became the Port of Rainy Lake. Visitors could come to Ranier by rail, rent a boat and continue to any destination on the lake. Freig... Read more
The Rainy Lake Chronicle occupied several buildings around Ranier during its run from 1974 to 1982, this just being its last. The Chronicle was the brainchild of Ted Hall, who at age 52 decided to leave his flashy career of working for two... Read more
Shelrud was one of the signees of the petition to incorporate Ranier in 1908 and operated his store on Duluth Street. He served as postmaster for a time. 
In the early days, a number of hotels, rooming houses, and saloons made Ranier a pretty lively place. One of the largest and most flourishing of these establishments was the William's Night Club, owned by Bob Williams, located where the pos... Read more
The railroad and rumors of the railroad brought many people to Rainer. In 1907, a bridge was built over the Ranier Rapids that connected Ranier with Fort Frances and the Canadian Railway system. This gave Ranier a Port of Entry status, and ... Read more
The European Hotel was one of the hotels built during Ranier's infancy and always had a stream of customers, for both legal and illegal purposes. 
One of the more important industries in Ranier was commercial fishing. Numerous families and other individuals were involved in this enterprise. For many years, the commercial fishermen operated a fish hatchery to restock the lake to ensure... Read more
John Erickson, born December 28, 1884, in Clara City, MN, moved to this area in 1906, before Ranier was incorporated. For a year, John and his brother Harry Erickson worked in Fort Frances as carpenters and builders. In 1907, they establish... Read more
Harry Erickson, born in 1878, came to the Borderlands with his brother John Erickson in 1906 before Ranier was incorporated in 1908. He worked in Fort Frances as a carpenter and builder and fur dealer until 1907 when he went into business w... Read more
After John Erickson sold his general store to his nephew George, he devoted all his time to boats. He opened a small bait shop and boat house where he rented and repaired boats. The building that now houses Tara's Wharf is a replica of Joh... Read more
Built by Jim DiOnne before World War 1, it was later purchased by George Finstad who operated it until his death in 1975. George Finstad was a well-known mechanic and machinist who kept Rainy Lake's fleet of pleasure and work boats in fine ... Read more
Gene Richie Monahan, born and raised in Duluth, was not long out of high school before she was winning national recognition for her painting. She earned her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Art at the University of Minnesota. Her marriage t... Read more
Ranier beach was used as a docking point for boats and planes. Harry Erickson often kept his boats here. When the dock wasn't busy with lake traffic, young kids could play in the shallow water.


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