Bemidji, Minnesota

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Bemidji, Minnesota
Statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox
Statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox
Flag of Bemidji, Minnesota
Nickname(s): Brrrmidji
Motto: "First City On The Mississippi"
Location of the city of Bemidjiwithin Beltrami Countyin the state of Minnesota
Location of the city of Bemidji
within Beltrami County
in the state of Minnesota
Bemidji, Minnesota is located in USA
Bemidji, Minnesota
Bemidji, Minnesota
Location in the United States
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Beltrami
Incorporated 1896
 • Mayor Rita Albrecht
 • City 14.14 sq mi (36.62 km2)
 • Land 12.92 sq mi (33.46 km2)
 • Water 1.22 sq mi (3.16 km2)  8.63%
Elevation 1,365 ft (416 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • City 13,431
 • Estimate (2013[3]) 14,435
 • Density 1,039.6/sq mi (401.4/km2)
 • Urban 16,000 (roughly)
Time zone Central (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) Central (UTC-5)
ZIP code 56601
Area code(s) 218
FIPS code 27-05068
GNIS feature ID 0655325[4]

Bemidji (/bəˈmɪ/ bə-MIJ-ee) is a city in Beltrami County (and county seat[5]), in north west Minnesota, United States. With a population of 13,431 at the 2010 census,[6] it is the largest commercial center between Grand Forks, North Dakota and Duluth, Minnesota. Bemidji houses many Native American services, which includes the Indian Health Service. The city is the central hub of the Red Lake Indian Reservation, White Earth Indian Reservation and the Leech Lake Indian Reservation. Bemidji lies on the south west shore of Lake Bemidji, the northernmost lake feeding the Mississippi River and as such is deemed "the first city on the Mississippi." Bemidji is also called the "curling capital" of the U.S.


Its name derives from the Ojibwe Buh-mid-ji-ga-maug (Double-Vowel orthography: bemijigamaag),[7] meaning "a lake with crossing waters". On occasion, in Ojibwe, the city of Bemidji is called Wabigamaang ("at the lake channel/narrows"), because part of the city is situated on the Lakes Bemidji/Irving narrows, located on the south end of Lake Bemidji, and extends to the eastern shore of Lake Irving. Some sources also credit the name to Chief Bemidji, an Ojibwe chief.[8]


Bemidji Township was surveyed in 1874 and organized in 1896 twenty-four days after the village of Bemidji was chartered and is the oldest township in the county. In 1897, the county attorney declared the original Bemidji township organization illegal (no reason given) and the township reorganized June 26, 1897.[9]

Parks and recreation

Bemidji is near Chippewa National Forest, Itasca State Park, Lake Bemidji State Park, Big Bog State Recreation Area, and state forest areas. Bemidji has 400 lakes within 25 miles (40 km), 500 mi (800 km) of snowmobile trails and 99 mi (160 km) of cross country ski trails. Bemidji is home to many recreational events throughout the year. The Paul Bunyan Triathlon is the 3rd Saturday in August. The Dragon Boat Festival is a racing competition held at the waterfront during the first week of August. The Bemidji Polar Days is a week-long event held during the winter months. The Minnesota Finlandia Ski Marathon is also held in Bemidji.[10]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.14 square miles (36.62 km2), of which 12.92 square miles (33.46 km2) is land and 1.22 square miles (3.16 km2) is water.[1]

Four-lane U.S. Route 2, U.S. Route 71, and Minnesota State Highway 197 are three of the main routes in the city. Minnesota State Highways 89 and 371 are nearby.

The largest earthquake on record for the Bemidji area was recorded on September 3, 1917. It is claimed that it shook houses down in Bemidji and across northern Minnesota.[11] The epicenter was about 95 miles (153 km) away in Staples, Minnesota and affected an area of 48,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi) with a magnitude 4.4 with a maximum intensity of VI to VII. The closest and most recent quake occurred in Walker, Minnesota on September 27, 1982 with a magnitude of 2.0.[12]


Bemidji has a hemiboreal climate, Dfb in the Koeppen climate classification - short, warm summers; long, severe winters. The average mean annual temperature in Bemidji is 37.3 degrees. The coldest month is January with an average daily high of 16 degrees and an average daily low of -4 degrees. The warmest month is July with an average daily high of 79 degrees and an average daily low of 57 degrees. The average annual humidity is 47%. The average annual snowfall is 41.1 inches and the average annual rainfall is 23.8 inches. The average day Lake Bemidji freezes over is November 26 and the average day the ice goes off the lake is April 26.[citation needed]

Climate data for Bemidji, Minnesota
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 52
Average high °F (°C) 16.4
Daily mean °F (°C) 5.9
Average low °F (°C) −4.3
Record low °F (°C) −50
Average snowfall inches (cm) 8.2
Source: Climatography of the United States[13]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 2,183
1910 5,099 133.6%
1920 7,086 39.0%
1930 7,202 1.6%
1940 9,427 30.9%
1950 10,001 6.1%
1960 9,958 −0.4%
1970 11,490 15.4%
1980 10,949 −4.7%
1990 11,245 2.7%
2000 11,917 6.0%
2010 13,431 12.7%
Est. 2014 14,453 [14] 7.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[15]
2013 Estimate[3]

2010 census

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 13,431 people, 5,339 households, and 2,557 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,039.6 inhabitants per square mile (401.4/km2). There were 5,748 housing units at an average density of 444.9 per square mile (171.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 81.3% White, 1.2% African American, 11.3% Native American, 1.4% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.3% from other races, and 4.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.9% of the population.

There were 5,339 households of which 24.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.7% were married couples living together, 14.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 52.1% were non-families. 38.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.83.

The median age in the city was 27.1 years. 19.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 26.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.6% were from 25 to 44; 17.5% were from 45 to 64; and 14.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.7% male and 52.3% female.

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 11,917 people, 4,669 households, and 2,427 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,011.8 people per square mile (390.6/km²). There were 4,948 housing units at an average density of 420.1 per square mile (162.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 84.31% White American, 0.76% African American, 11.52% Native American, 1.12% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.20% from other races, and 2.06% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.14% of the population.

There were 4,669 households out of which 25.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.0% were married couples living together, 14.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.0% were non-families. 35.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.2% under the age of 18, 24.9% from 18 to 24, 23.0% from 25 to 44, 15.4% from 45 to 64, and 15.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 87.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,072, and the median income for a family was $37,250. Males had a median income of $28,312 versus $20,694 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,264. About 13.2% of families and 19.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.7% of those under age 18 and 10.9% of those age 65 or over.


1894 photo of Carson's Trading Post, Bemidji's first white business. Brothers George Earl and Merian Ellsworth Carson moved to the area in 1888, and Merian eventually married into a Leach Lake Band family.[16]

Bemidji is a college city with strong arts influences. The city's streets are lined with small shops and adorned with sculptures and other forms of public art.

The Concordia Language Villages are located near Bemidji and have been influential in the existence of several language conversational groups (including French, Norwegian, Spanish, Italian, and German) that meet weekly in local coffee houses.

In 2011, Red Lake Ojibwe Nation Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr. complimented the city for its Ojibwe language signage in places of business.[17]

During the summer, the Paul Bunyan Playhouse operates a non-Equity, summer stock theater. Bemidji Community Theatre also provides live theatre for the Bemidji area when Paul Bunyan Playhouse is not in operation.


The city is well known to fans of the sport of hockey. As a Division II team, Bemidji State was a hockey dynasty in the 80s and 90s. Bemidji was in the title game 8 straight years, winning 5 Div II titles.

Also, the city is known to fans of the sport of curling. Both men's and women's rinks from the Bemidji Curling Club won the right to represent the United States in the 2005 World Curling Championship and the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. Pete Fenson, the skip of the U.S. curling team that took the bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics, is a native of Bemidji, as is Natalie Nicholson, who was the lead for the United States women's team at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

A city referendum for a Bemidji Regional Events Center passed by a slim majority of 43 votes out of 4,583 votes cast in November 2006.[citation needed] Opening in 2010, the center was renamed the Sanford Center and serves as home to the Bemidji State University hockey team. The men's and women's hockey teams are both members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Beginning in the spring of 2014, the Sanford Center is the home of the city's first-ever professional sports team, the Minnesota Axemen of the Indoor Football League.


Bemidji is home to Bemidji State University, Northwest Technical College, and Oak Hills Christian College. Public Education is served by Bemidji Area Schools, TrekNorth Charter High School, Voyagers Charter High School and Schoolcraft Charter School. Bemidji is also home to three private schools: St. Philips Catholic School, St. Mark's Lutheran School and Heartland Christian Academy.

Regional center

The City of Bemidji acts as a regional center for shopping, arts, entertainment, education, health services, worship, and government services. The Bemidji Area includes parts or all of Beltrami (Pop. 44,442), Hubbard (Pop. 20,428), Cass (Pop. 28,567), Itasca (Pop. 45,058), Koochiching (Pop. 13,311), Lake Of The Woods (Pop. 4,045), Marshall (Pop. 9,439), Pennington (Pop. 13,930), Red Lake (Pop. 4,089), Clearwater (Pop. 8,695), and Mahnomen (Pop. 5,413) counties. The Bemidji area also includes the White Earth (Pop. 9,192) and Leech Lake (Pop. 10,660) Reservations and the Sovereign Nation of Red Lake (Pop. 5,162). This places the Bemidji Area population at 131,553.[18]



The Bemidji Pioneer is the local (except Mondays) daily newspaper.[19]

TV stations

Most of Bemidji's TV stations primarily rebroadcast the television stations of the Twin Cities.

Channel Digital
Call sign Affiliation Owner
9 9 KAWE PBS Northern MN Public TV
12 12 KCCW
(Located near Walker, MN)
(WCCO-TV relay)
CBS Corporation
26 26 KFTC MyNetworkTV
(WFTC relay)
Fox Television Stations
28 none K28DD ABC
(KSAX translator)
Hubbard Broadcasting
30 none K30DK Fox
(KMSP translator)
Fox Television Stations
42 none K42FH TBN Trinity Broadcasting Network
48 48* K48KI 3ABN Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Radio stations


FM radio stations
Frequency Call sign Name Format Owner
88.5 FM KCRB MPR/NPR Classical music Minnesota Public Radio
89.7 FM KBSB FM 90 College radio/Top 40 (CHR) Bemidji State Univ.
90.1 FM KOJB The Eagle public radio/Native American/community interest
91.3 FM KNBJ MPR/NPR News/Talk Minnesota Public Radio
92.1 FM WMIS The River 92.1 Adult Hits RP Broadcasting
92.7 FM W224AB Psalm 99:5 Christian
(KBHW translator)
Oak Hills Fellowship
93.5 FM K228EW LifeTalk Radio Christian
(KOPJ translator)
We Have This Hope
94.9 FM K235BP The Bun Sports
(KBUN translator)
Paul Bunyan Broadcasting
95.5 FM KKZY KZY 95.5 Adult contemporary Paul Bunyan Broadcasting
96.7 FM KKCQ-FM Q Country Country Pine to Prairie Broadcasting
98.3 FM WBJI Real Country 98.3 Country RP Broadcasting
99.1 FM KLLZ Z99 Classic rock Paul Bunyan Broadcasting
101.1 FM KBHP KB101 Country Paul Bunyan Broadcasting
102.5 FM KKWB Coyote 102.5 Country De La Hunt Broadcasting
103.1 FM K276EP AM 820 Oldies
(WBKK translator)
De La Hunt Broadcasting
103.7 FM KKBJ-FM Mix 103.7 Hot AC RP Broadcasting
104.5 FM KBUN-FM Sports Paul Bunyan Broadcasting
105.3 FM K287AD Northern Community Radio
(NPR/IPR affiliate)
Public radio
(KAXE translator)
Northern Community Radio
107.1 FM KKEQ Your Q FM Contemporary Christian music Pine to Prairie Brd.


AM radio stations
820 AM WBKK AM 820 Oldies De La Hunt Broadcasting
1360 AM KKBJ Talkradio 1360 News/Talk RP Broadcasting
1450 AM KBUN The Bun Sports
(KFAN/ESPN programming)
Paul Bunyan Broadcasting


  • Northwoods Woman, a bimonthly magazine published from 2008-2013, launched in Bemidji, Walker and Park Rapids and included articles about women who live and work in northern Minnesota.[20]


Major highways

The following routes are located in the Bemidji area.

Air service

Bemidji is served by Bemidji Airport, which has passenger services on 3 airlines, Delta Connection, Sun Country Airlines and Bemidji Airlines, the latter of which is based in the city of Bemidji. Bemidji Airlines also operates cargo flights, while Corporate Air is the only airline to operate all-cargo-only flights to the airport, on behalf of FedEx Express.

Notable people

In popular culture



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  22. Franzen, Jonathan, Freedom, 2010. p.472

External links

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