The Central Minnesota
Sustainable Development Plan



Our Story


Population:  2,395

Median Age:  43.2

Median Income:  $30,787

Area:  2387 Acres/ 3.73 square miles

Top Three Industries: Education, Health & Social Services, Manufacturing



This area has been inhabited for many thousands of years.  Beginning with the Paleo-Indians around 8,000 B.C., fur trading and exploration flourished in the seventeenth century and gave way to logging in the mid-1800’s and finally to mining in 1903; this area has a long and rich history.

 Crosby was incorporated in July of 1910 and was built for the sole purpose of mining, as were many of the neighboring towns.  Rail lines were brought in initially to facilitate logging the vast stands of pine and later supported the mining industry.  Many small towns sprang up to house and supply the miners as more and more mines were opened.  From 1910 to the early 1980s, the essence of the Cuyuna Range flowed red with iron ore. 

 The Croft mine operated in northeast Crosby until 1934.  The ore at 55% iron was exceptionally rich and coveted for the making of steel.  Today it is a historical site, much of the equipment and many artifacts remain; guided tours are available during the summer months.

 The worst mining accident in the state was located just two miles north of Crosby.  On February 5, 1924 water from nearby Foley Lake broke into the lower level of the Milford mine killing forty-one miners and completely flooding the mine within twenty minutes. Before recovery efforts could begin, Foley Lake had to be drained and mud that filled the tunnels had to be shoveled out by hand.  It took nine months to recover all of the bodies.  More than 106 million tons of ore were mined and shipped from the Cuyuna range between its discovery, in 1904, and 1984, when mining ceased.

 Crosby is also the home of the 1957 Project Manhigh, an airforce project, which was a manned capsule dangling from a 280-foot balloon as it lifted off from the 425 foot deep Portsmouth Mine pit soaring to 102,000 feet.  The purpose was to gather data on the behavior of man in a balloon in an environment above 99% of the earth’s atmosphere.  The pressurized capsule was launched under a gigantic polyethylene balloon that expanded to a diameter of 200 feet. 



Today, the mines have closed and are filled with crystal-clear water and the hills of overburden are covered in poplar and spruce. Over 50 unique dive sites, with visability from 20-50 feet, are  a mecca for all levels of SCUBA divers.   More than half of the city is located within the newly developed 5,000 acre Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, which has more than 24 miles of natural shoreline, seven miles of paved bike trail, and soon, nearly 25 miles of world-class, IMBA certified mountain bike trails. 

The residents of Crosby have a deep sense of ownership to keep the community thriving and growing. The local newspaper, currently called the Crosby-Ironton Courier  has been in circulation for over 100 years.  Fundraising and volunteerism has led to many successful events and accomplishments.

 One successful project includes completion of the Hallet Center which incorporates five facilities in one, an arena, aquatic center, fitness center, aerobic room and a meeting room.  The Hallett Community Center opened in 1999 in part from a philanthropic donation from the Hallett Family Trust in answer to a visioning session by area residents.  Although located in Crosby, the facility benefits all of the communities in the area.

Another project saw the community raise funds to build a large playground next to the full service campground on Serpent Lake. Crosby is known as the "Antique Capitol" of Minnesota and main street is only 2 blocks from the park.  In addition, there are also many events throughout the year including the Mountain Bike Festival, Heritage Days, Christmas in the Park and summer, winter concerts in the park and many more. 

Currently, Crosby and the surrounding communities within the Cuyuna Lakes area are working to create a regional framework to better connect the cities, named Project Revive. The project will help make the Cuyuna Lakes Area a vacation destination for tourists interested in outdoor activities. To do this, they are working with the Minnesota Design Team and have come up with many recommendations ranging from enhancing streetscapes to marketing industrial parks and empty buildings.

Crosby identified these additional assets in their community:    

Natural Assets:

Serpent Lake

16 lakes / 34 miles of lake shore




Cultural Assets:

Historical mining community

Volunteerism valued - Civic minded individuals

Community identity around outdoor activity; camping


Human Assets:

Hard working / Skilled workforce


Leadership – grass roots efforts,  collaborative

Volunteered services; Firemen, firefighters, EMT’s


Social Assets:

Mentoring programs; Youth Center, Kinship Partners

Senior programs at Heartwood Senior Living

Events in the park – year round music

Community education programs at Hallet Center

Church groups

10 annual community festivals

Lions Club


Political Assets:

New city government

Cuyuna Lakes Area vision – political advocates

Active Chamber

State representation (young and old)


Financial Assets:

City is financially stable

Foundations who provide grant opportunities; Hallet, Blandin, Initiative Foundation ect.

Several banks

Resident doners; Locally raised money for projects


Built Assets:

City Park

Youth center

Community center

Medical facility


Bike trails

Nice roads

New plaza/gathering space

New water system

Industrial park

Golf course


Geographic location – Heart of Minnesota


Bike trails




Crosby has been proactive in shaping their future and is looking forward to implementing many of the strategies they have created from the suggestions from the Minnesota Design Team.  The community members have determined the following to be their primary wishes for the community.


Community Goals

 1.   Create a Total Package Community for ALL Ages

Attract hospitality businesses including hotel, restaurants and service businesses (salons, repair, etc.) As well as creating viable access to be active for both young and old.

2.     Main Street Revitalization 

Update and refresh the main street including providing access to trails, revamping buildings, updating streetscapes and adding community gathering spaces.

3.    Young Leadership

Young leadership is encouraged to help the future community leaders build upon dreams and keep Crosby moving forward.


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