The second quarter century of Bemidji’s history was perhaps the most dynamic of any 25 years in the city’s development. Lumber had originally drawn people to the area, and sawmills continued to thrive, but the rough-and-tumble town of the late 1800s had matured to the point of being the north central hub for railroads, bringing freight and passengers and taking huge loads of lumber away.
Since its designation as Beltrami County’s seat in 1897, the city had seen the steady growth of schools and businesses. In 1920, Bemidji had a population of 7,086. By the mid-1940s, it was approaching 10,000.