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Power Dam, International Falls 1915

Power Dam, International Falls 1915
Koochiching Census Information
Estab:  December 19, 1906
Parent County:  Itasca
Koochiching county with county seat

Southeast region of Minnesota Southwest region of Minnesota Northwest region of Minnesota Northeast region of Minnesota Central region of Minnesota

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Koochiching County

This county, established December 19, 1906, bears the Cree name applied by the Ojibwe to Rainy Lake and also to the Rainy River and to its great falls and rapids at International Falls. It is translated by Rev. J. A. Gilfillan as Neighbor Lake and River or, under another interpretation, a lake and river somewhere. He remarked that this word is of difficult or uncertain meaning and that, although in common Ojibwe use, it does not strictly belong to that language.

Jacques de Noyon, a French Canadian voyageur, who was probably the first white man to traverse any part of the northern boundary of Minnesota, about the year 1688 found this name used in the Cree language for the Rainy River. As narrated by an official report of the Intendant Begon, written at Quebec, November 12, 1716, published in the Margry Papers (vol. 6, pp. 495-98), de Noyon, about 28 years previous to that date, had set out from Lake Superior by the canoe route of the Kaministikwia River, under the guidance of a party of Assiniboine Indians, in the hope of coming to the Sea of the West. He passed through Rainy Lake, called the Lake of the Crees, and wintered on its outflowing river, the Takamaniouen, "otherwise called Ouchichiq by the Crees," evidently the Koochiching or Rainy River and Falls, from which this county is named.

Another early narrative of travel, 1740-42, by a French and Ojibwe mixed blood named Joseph la France, containing a description of the Rainy Lake and River, is given in a book published by Arthur Dobbs in London in 1744, titled An Account of the Countries Adjoining to Hudson's Bay. La France passed through Rainy Lake in the later part of April and early May 1740 and stayed ten days at the Koochiching Falls on the Rainy River near the outlet of this lake. For the purpose of fishing, the Moose band of Ojibwe had "two great Villages, one on the North Side, and the other on the South Side of the Fall," being respectively on or near the sites of Fort Frances and International Falls. The narrative tells the origin of the French name, Lac de la Pluie (Lake of the Rain), which in English is Rainy Lake, that it "is so called from a perpendicular Water-fall, by which the Water falls into a River South-west of it, which raises a Mist-like Rain." This refers to the outflowing Rainy River in its formerly mist-covered falls, since 1908 dammed and supplying waterpower in the city of International Falls for the largest papermaking mills in the world.

The original meanings of Ouchichiq (for Koochiching), the Cree name of Rainy River 200 years ago, and Takamaniouen, variously spelled, an equally ancient Indian name of the Rainy River and Lake, are uncertain, but it may be true that one or both gave in translation the French and English names, which refer to the mists of the falls, resembling rain.

Takamaniouen, as written by Begon in 1716, placed in another spelling on the map drawn by Auchagah (Ochagach) for Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de la VTrendrye in 1728, was received from the Assiniboines. It is thought by Horace V. Winchell and U. S. Grant (Geology of Minnesota, vol. 4, p. 192), that this name was translated to Lac de la Pluie.