The Central Minnesota
Sustainable Development Plan



Our Story


Population:  288          

Median Age:  33 years

Median Income:  $44,100

Area:  1.25 square miles

Most Common Industry:  Construction, manufacturing, retail trade



The original homesteader on land which is now Bowlus was John Gross who filed in 1866. After working the land for seven years he transferred the land to his son, Phillip.   Ensuing years saw the land sold to Martin Czech then to C.A. Campbell and finally to the Tri State Land Company in June 1907.  Tri-State platted the town and sold the first city lots.  The town began to grow, with numerous businesses springing up to serve the town and surrounding area.  School District #10 was organized in 1870; in 1910 a two story brick public school was built on land donated by the railroad.  A Post Office was established in 1907 and the Bank of Bowlus in 1911.

Bowlus, named after a railroad man, was platted on July 1, 1907 and incorporated into a village in 1910.  Spurring the action was news that the Soo Railroad would be built through the town.  A station house and numerous stores were built, prospering from the rich trade from nearby farmers.  

Because of the heavy stands of Oak, Maple, Elm and White Pine lumbering became an important business in Bowlus.  Many logging related businesses grew.  A saw mill, heading mill, planning mill, lumber yard and barrel factory all prospered.  Maintaining a bridge to Royalton over the Mississippi River was difficult; many of the wooden bridges constructed were swept away by ice and log jams.  One such ice jam happened in the spring of 1906.  Just above the bridge was an immense gorge of ice and logs.  A handful of Bowlus men worked for hours to free the frozen water from around the bridge.  Using 200 pounds of dynamite the men cleared about 100 acres of ice, some more than 4 feet thick, freeing      10 million feet of logs and saving the bridge. 

Because of poor economic conditions and suppression of their language and faith many Polish people emigrated at the close of the 19th century.  Father Pierz in letters back to Prussia extolled the virtues of Central Minnesota and encouraged Prussian citizens to come to Minnesota.   By 1880 more than 60 farms in Two Rivers Township were settled by Silesian (SW Poland) families.   Since most were Catholic, in 1909 a committee petitioned the railroad for a tract of land to build a church.  The railroad donated a full block of land for the project and Martin Czech donated two acres to the south of the proposed church to be used as a cemetery.  St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church, with a seating capacity of 400, was built at a cost of $12,475.  Local farmers provided the stone for the foundation and stained-glass windows were purchased in Minneapolis for $590.  In 1913 a parish house was built next to the church.

Blanchard Dam-construction began in 1924. A typical work crew worked 10 hours per day and six to seven days a week. Their wages were $.30 per hour and length of employment was approximately 18 months.  In February of 1925 a power plant was installed consisting of a turbine of 9,000 horse-power capacity, directly attached to a generator capable of furnishing 7,500 kilowatts per hour under a full head of water.

Many unique and distinctive enterprises have called Bowlus home over the years.  For a time June grass (similar to Kentucky Blue grass) was harvested and the seed shipped to other parts of the country.  For several years people could raise cucumbers for the Gedney Pickle Factory.  Twice a week a buyer would come to town to collect the cucumbers and pay the growers.  A broom factory also had a short existence in Bowlus.



Bowlus is located in Two Rivers Township in the south central part of Morrison County, approximately 25 miles north of St. Cloud, 15 miles south of Little Falls and 5 miles west of Royalton.  

Located near the Mississippi River, you can get some fishing in, visit Blanchard Dam, go "cross rock" hunting and just have some good old fashioned fun.  The Staurolites, better known as “cross rocks” are referred to due to their shape. These rock formations are extremely rare and are only found in a few areas of the world. No cross rocks found are ever alike. These cross rocks are twinned staurolite crystals stimulating the Maltese, St. Andrew’s and Prismatic crosses and are much sought after as good luck pieces, charms and natural curiosities. These rare stones can be found at Blanchard Dam.

The Blanchard Dam is one of the taller dams on the Mississippi River. The water action looks impressive in spring high water levels but during much of the year, the gates on the dam are closed, and the only water that flows is through the power house. As a result, fishermen are able to walk across the bottom of the falls, using the concrete outcropping as a fishing platform. The Soo Line Trail bridge is located just below the Blanchard Dam. There are spectacular views of the dam from the trail bridge. 

Bowlus boasts many amenities including the Soo Line Trail which welcomes bikers, walkers and rollerbladers in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter.  The Soo Line Trail connects to the Lake Wobegon Trail in Stearns County where you will cross the river on a scenic covered bridge, one of the longest covered bridges in Minnesota!   The community center is located in a park right along the Soo Line Trail, where visitors can rest, play and enjoy the center or walk across the street for a wonderful meal and unique shopping. 

A farmers market is held on Thursdays and the Legion sponsors a market on the 1st Saturday in October each year. 

With an abundance of vibrant businesses, a community center, children’s playground, ball field, hockey rink and a park to welcome all ages, you will enjoy visiting Bowlus.  Today the city is still a peaceful, friendly city where everyone is a neighbor and visitors are welcome.

Residents identified these specific assets in BOWLUS

Natural Assets:

Two Rivers     

Cross rocks

Eagles, turkeys, deer,

Area lakes

Open area



Ag land

Natural beauty


Mississippi River

Little “cricks”


No big city pollution

Clean air



Cultural Assets:


Farmers market


St Stanislaus Kostka’s Catholic Church


Human Assets:

Harold Fisher, a land called Morrison


Duane Bobick


1st Responders


Shut in visits

Community growth

Neat & tidy community

Commuter community

Blue collar workers


Professional workers

Friendly community

Fire fighters



Social Assets:

Bowlus Days

Quilting group/lap robes for Vets

Minnesota 13/book by Elaine Davis

Central MN Bike Club


Fire Department


Ladies Axillary


Political Assets:

City council/forward thinking-pro-active

Morrison County


Morrison County city meetings


Fire Department/Mutual aid contracts/coverage


Financial Assets:

American Legion Scholarships

Private donors

Pine Country Bank

Initiative Foundation


Built Assets:


Bowlus elevator (Bowlus Feed & Grain)

Community Center/park

Fire Department

Soo Line Trail

Great River Road Scenic By-way

Jordie’s Cafe

Bowlus Auto Repair

Psyck’s Market

Rahn’s Groceries

Rahn’s Oil & Propane

Bowlus Liquor

Saddle Shop

Post Office

Teri’s Salon

T Reis Photography





Community Goals

1.  Become a bike friendly community. Get bike friendly business and city designation. Connect trails into and out of town for locals.  Be prepared for the flood of bike tourists that will come with the Veterans Trail.

2.  Enhance the trail head, beautify

3.  Keeping existing businesses and add new ones.


For more information on the City of BOWLUS and all it has to offer, visit: