Imagine, if you will a canopy of White Pine trees so thick that the blue sky and sunshine were hard to see. This is what the first settlers saw as they moved into the area around Hinckley.
However, these settlers were not the first to inhabit the area. The Ojibwe Indians had lived near the St. Croix River since the mid 1800's and knew of the abundance of natural wealth the land had to offer.
Because of the large stand of White Pine trees in the Hinckley area, loggers migrated here and the first sawmill was built in 1869. In the same year, the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad pushed its railroad building operation into Hinckley, and finally into Duluth by 1870.
With the coming of the railroad, the lumber industry boomed and for twenty years, Hinckley was a growing, prosperous town with a population of 1,500.
Still today, that year stands as one of the driest on record. With the blowing winds, low humidity and less than two inches of rain from May until September, the area was a prime target for a fire.
Because of the dryness of the summer, fires were common in the woods, along railroad tracks and in logging camps where loggers would set fire to their slash to clean up before moving on.
Some loggers left their debris behind giving the fires more fuel on which to grow. Saturday, September 1, 1894 began as another oppressively hot day with smaller fires surrounding the towns and two major fires burning five miles to the south. To add to the problem, a huge layer of cool air from a temperature inversion held down the heat, smoke and gases of these fires. The two fires managed to join together to make one large fire with flames that licked through the inversion finding the cool air above. That air came rushing down into the fires to create a vortex or tornado of flames which then began to move quickly and grew larger and larger turning into a fierce firestorm. the fire first destroyed the towns of Mission Creek and Brook Park before coming into the town of Hinckley. When it was over the firestorm had completely destroyed six towns, and over 400 square miles lay black and smoldering. The firestorm was so devastating that it lasted only four hours but destroyed everything in its path.
Hinckley had lost much of its agriculture community but has become a tourist destination famous for its history, caramel rolls, good food, bike trails, St. Croix State Park, and the Grand Casino Hinckley. The population is just over 1,700 and continues to grow by meeting the demands of new job opportunities and people who want to live in a small town with many opportunities. Come for a visit and stay for the night. Hinckley welcomes you to experience all it has to offer.