The Central Minnesota
Sustainable Development Plan



Our Story

Population:  210

Median Age:  49.8

Median Income:   $28,750

Area:   1.10 square miles

Most Common Industry:  Construction, Wholesale Trade, Transportation and Warehousing



The Garrison and Mille Lacs Lake area has some of the oldest history in the State.  It was first populated by the Sioux and later by the Chippewa.  Permanent villages dotted the shores of the “Spirit Lake” as it was called.  Around the mid-1700’s, the Ojibwe migrated around to Mille Lacs.  The Natives fought back and forth for control of the area for decades.  Eventually the Chippewa drove the Sioux south and west onto the plains.  The natural resources found in abundance and the ease of gathering food; fish, fur, fowl, berries, maple syrup and wild rice  made living near the lake very desirable.

Under the 1855 Treaty of Washington, the Mille Lacs Reservation was established on the southwest shores of the lake and by 1899 European fur traders settled Garrison on the northwest shore.  The region continues to be known primarily for its recreation and fishing.

Garrison Township was named in honor of Oscar E. Garrison, a land surveyor and civil engineer, who was born at Fort Ann, NY on July 21, 1825 and died on his farm in this township April 2, 1886.  He came to Minnesota in 1850 and served in the Northern Rangers against the Sioux in the 1862 Dakota uprising.  He took his homestead claim in Garrison Township in 1882.  In 1884, Garrison’s wife Mary became postmaster and the name was changed at that time.  The city was not incorporated until May 3, 1937.   



You know you have arrived in Garrison when you spy Wally the Walleye on the historic Garrison Concourse overlooking Mille Lacs.  (It’s just a tankful of gas north of the Twin Cities.)  Work is currently underway to restore the concourse wall and return it to the original park that provides magnificent views of Mille Lacs, fish launches, and the action of the many top-rated fishing contests sponsored by the local chapter of Duck Unlimited. 

To continue protection of the natural resources in the area, a new Scientific and Natural Area has just been established near the Garrison moraine, which will be open to the public and showcases the biodiversity in the area.  There are over 200 lakes within a twenty-mile radius of Garrison.

Garrison residents enjoy the playground and ballpark that has the designation of the smallest town with a lighted scoreboard.  The Commercial Club in Garrison is active sponsoring many events in the area including the annual Play Days celebration.  Play Days is a celebration with games, street dance, pig races, parade, softball tournaments and fireworks.  The festivities entertain 4-5,000 people with the help of many community volunteers including the Lions Club, and RSVP – retired senior volunteer program. The proceeds supply the Fourth of July fireworks on the lake.  Other annual events held year round draw many visitors in with a focus on the excellent fishing and recreation opportunities in the area. 

There is strong support for those in need with the help of the local churches, Garrison Area Caregivers and the Thrift Store working together, providing support and food.  Even the Children’s Garden supplies fresh produce, a program left over from the wellness program that ended.  The curio shop, nearby theater and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Casino bring in cars that keep the busiest gas station in Minnesota active.  Restaurant choices range from the Blue Goose and the Y Club, a newly remodeled restaurant at the city’s crossroads to the McDonalds.  Garrison is the smallest city in the world to have a McDonald’s franchise. 

Community members listed these additional assets: 

Natural Assets:

Mille Lacs Lake

SNA – Scientific Natural Area (Hormel)

Wild and Free rehabilitation



Cultural Assets:

Value neighboring Ojibwe Reservation

Close knit group-community minded


Human Assets:


Commercial Club

4 H Club

First Responders / Volunteer Fire department


Social Assets:

Lions Club

Four churches

Play Days – Fireworks

Service clubs –VFW, Seniors, Caregivers

Commercial Club

Community lunches through the church


Political Assets:

Strong leadership in Garrison

Highway services from local MnDOT shop


Financial Assets:

Two Banks

Super-Valu Brat Sales

Launches and resorts nearby that provide donations

Donation opportunities through the Commercial Club


Built Assets:

Volleyball field

Snowmobile Trails

Softball field with Lighted electronic board

Seaplanes / Airport (best grass strip in state)

Wally the Walleye

Concourse to view Mille Lacs

Campground/RV Park

Community Center

City Park with ball field and play grounds

Golf Course and Mini Golf Course

Two clinics and pharmacy

Food Shelf and Thrift Store

Fire Department

New wastewater management facilities

Location – (one tank of gas from the Cities)


Animal Hospital




This community-minded group has several dreams for Garrison’s future.  Ideas from providing regular community meals (needs a kitchen to serve from), to a swimming beach for families along Mille Lacs, to building on the needs for safely walking and bicycling in the area.  The Three Wishes decided upon are as follows.

Community Goals

  1. Create a safe passage across the busy Hwy 169.  This will provide access as people cross from the lakes to the restaurants and other businesses.  Currently there is an underpass, but it is often flooded.  It is scheduled to be refurbished in 2014.
  2. Public Transportation is needed to get kids to go to activities and for seniors to run errands and appoints in Brainerd.  Most activity is in Brainerd; with an aging population and children’s programs in Brainerd, it is challenging to get there many times.
  3. There is a need to reestablish the community program for social development for children and adults.  The previous program was successful and addressed programs in Wellness, PhyEd, education, card clubs, and library, but is now unfunded.  Look to draw from local communities to support. 

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