A Brief History of the Miltona Area
Natural beauty and three lakes make the
Miltona area an attractive place to live. The largest lake
is Lake Miltona (said to be named for a Sioux Chief, meaning
“blue waters”). Lake Irene was originally “Reservoir Lake”,
then renamed for Irene Roadruck); and Lake Vermont (or
Before 1858 there were no settlers in the
area. Southern and western Douglas County was Dakota
territory: Ojibway (or Chippewa) territory included the
Miltona – Spruce Hill area. By 1851, the Dakota and Ojibway
had ceded their lands in Douglas County to the U. S.
Government. By 1858 the Red River Trail cut through the
area, connecting trade between the Red River of the North
and the Mississippi River.
A sizeable Sioux camp was located on the
south shore of Lake Miltona. Some accounts tell of a “final
battle”, but other accounts say that a settler who could
speak the Sioux language, along with a group of pioneer men,
met with the Sioux chief and convinced him that the Sioux
should give up their weapons and leave. The Sioux moved on
to the northwest.
The Homestead Act of 1862 promised land to
people who were willing to clear land and live on it for 5
years. The end of the Sioux Uprising of 1862 opened more
lands. The end of the Civil War, hard times in Europe,
better roads and later the railroad, all encouraged
In 1870, Alden Hamlet, located on Boggy
Creek, somewhere south of Lake Irene, was a stagecoach stop.
Ten years later, Spruce Hill Village (now a County Park) was
founded. It had three stores, a blacksmith shop, a mill and
a post office. The old Military Road was near by. Further
north, the Village of Spruce Center also had three stores, a
blacksmith and a mill. Today, a cluster of homes and a few
businesses make up Spruce Center. Three miles away, a
creamery and general store were built in Rose City. The
creamery was built on an old Indian campsite. The City of
Miltona, the largest and youngest town in the area, was
founded about thirty years later and incorporated in 1930.
Miltona Township was organized in 1872.
Twenty men attended the meeting. Early issues were: animal
control; road improvement; choosing people responsible for
overseeing animal control and roads; and determining a
township budget. Spruce Hill township was organized on March
Miltona and Spruce Hill were among the last
townships settled in Douglas County. As late as 1886, large
portions of the two townships were still owned by the
The Soo Line Railroad came through Douglas
County in 1902, and the towns of Forada, Carlos and Miltona
were settled. In 1910 John Hintzen purchased land in what
became the village of Miltona. He built a store, laid out
the village, and served in many capacities of leadership in
the town. A street just west of Main Street is named for
him. A depot was built in Miltona, before that time there
had been a place on the northeast side of Lake Irene called
The Old Spur, where people caught the train.
Life revolved around the homestead, school
and church. Building schools and establishing churches was a
priority for settlers. Log cabins and a granary served as
school buildings in the early days.
The natural beauty of the area attracted
visitors who came for recreation. The resort industry
flourished in Miltona township. Summer residents built
lakeshore cabins and enjoyed summers at the lake. The
Minnesouri and Illinois Fishing Clubs dubbed Lake Miltona
“the Bass Kingdom of the United States”.
Saturday, July 18,1970 changed the face of
Miltona. About 7 p.m., a funnel cloud formed over Lake
Miltona, moved across the Lake Miltona Golf Club and touched
down in the City of Miltona, destroying businesses in the
center of town. The tornado destroyed the lumberyard and
café, the depot, gas station, elevator and some homes. Many
other buildings were damaged. The City of Miltona celebrates
its survival and resurrection with “Tornado Days” in
mid-July each year.
The City of Miltona has been a typical
rural small town, surrounded by farms. Homes are now
replacing fields around the City and many residents work in
Alexandria or Parkers Prairie. In recent years, both the
City of Miltona and Miltona Township have attracted many
retirees who enjoy the community and the recreational
opportunities in the area.
history was compiled in 2006 as a project of Team Miltona
information: “Miltona Township History” compiled by Mr. and
Mrs. Herbert E. Harfiel, Luella Erickson. More detailed
information available at the Douglas County Historical
Society in Alexandria.
Back: Miltona Village and Miltona and Spruce Hill Townships: