Nestled along the shores of three lakes, Lake Crystal has a long history of prospering and growing.
William Robinson and Lucius Hunt made their way from Wisconsin to Minnesota in search of a new home. They were told there was good land west of the Mississippi and one American Indian they spoke with talked of an area surrounded by three lakes. This is where Robinson and Hunt searched for. Upon finding the area, each purchased land a mile long and half a mile wide with a fence between the two properties. It is said that Main Street was once the dividing line between the two properties.
Upon the settlement of Robinson and Hunt, there was no townsite. There was an attempt at a town in 1857, Crystal Lake City, but without a store in town, there were not many people who wanted to come to settle in the area.
After the US-Dakota War of 1862, more people were moving into the area and found the land around the lakes a beautiful place to make a home. A post office was established about a mile from the current location of Lake Crystal in 1867. This was later replaced in the 1870s once Lake Crystal was established. The Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Omaha Railroad line established a station in the area in 1869. At the height of the railroad traffic, Lake Crystal saw twenty-three trains a day.
The official townsite of Lake Crystal was platted in December 1869 with the official incorporation of Lake Crystal as a town in February 1870. At the time of incorporation, the town had several businesses including a grain elevator, hotel, schoolhouse, grocery store, hardware store, and a doctor’s office.
Lake Crystal continued its expansion through the years. Several churches were established in the 1870s, some of which remain to this day. The school was added onto in 1892 as the old schoolhouse was too small for all the children residing in the town. The community started a newspaper in 1890 which continues to publish a weekly edition to this day.
The Lily Creamery was established in 1918. At one point, it could churn over half a million pounds of butter a year. This creamery closed in the early 1930s.
Dr. Fred Franchere, seeing how long it took to get to Mankato, established a hospital in Lake Crystal in 1926. He operated this hospital until 1956. It was later turned into apartments. A nursing home was added in the 1950s and the Lake Crystal Area Recreation Center opened in the 1990s.
Lake Crystal continues to grow as a community. Most recently, the Lake Crystal Pharmacy opened. This is a branch of the Madelia Community Hospital & Clinic. Here’s to the next 150 years of Lake Crystal History.