Minnesota Power owns and manages about 30,000 acres of land in central and northeastern Minnesota, most of it associated with reservoirs and the generation of hydroelectricity. We are the largest producer of clean, renewable hydropower in Minnesota.
As part of the federal licenses to operate the reservoirs, Minnesota Power manages large portions of the surrounding land for public recreation, forest and wildlife stewardship, aesthetics, and environmental protection. It’s how we pay the public back for the use of its water.
We also lease lakeshore lands and have about 1,400 leaseholders throughout our property. Many home and cabin sites have been in the same family for generations.
Rooted in hydropower
Dam and power plant of the Little Falls Water Power Co. on the Mississippi River at Little Falls, Minnesota, in April 1923.
MP Shoreland, Minnesota Power’s land-leasing program, evolved from the company’s hydroelectric system.
In about 1918, Minnesota Power's predecessor companies began establishing large reservoirs to be used to produce hydroelectric power. In many cases, these reservoirs quickly became recreation attractions for local anglers, swimmers, and boating enthusiasts.
By the late 1920s and 1930s, as these predecessor companies consolidated into what eventually would be Minnesota Power, entrepreneurs recognized the widespread appeal of these reservoir lakes and began opening resorts catering to the public. These resort owners leased the land from the power company and set up shop on the lakeshores of Island Lake, Fish Lake, Whiteface, Wild Rice Lake and Boulder Lake reservoirs near Duluth, as well as the Gull River Flowage and the Crow Wing River, near Brainerd.
About this same time, residents from adjacent towns and cities began to request leases along the shores of these reservoirs from the power company. They used these leases to build cabins along the lakeshore of the reservoirs and other nearby waterfront properties. At that time, leases were established on a first-come, first-served basis. Prospective leaseholders stopped into the power company office and were handed wood laths and told to post them in the trees of their lease lots 200 feet apart, creating roughly one-acre lots.
During the 1950s and 1960s, interest in lakeshore living surged along with the growth of families in post-World War II America. Most of the present-day lots along the reservoirs were established at this time and many remain in the same family names today.
In 1980 Minnesota Power began offering new leases on select, undeveloped shoreline areas. Today, new undeveloped lease lots occasionally are available and existing lots may be offered by the leaseholders themselves or through local real estate agents.
Minnesota Power, a subsidiary of energy company ALLETE Inc., takes pride in making a positive difference in the communities it serves. We have a longstanding commitment to environmental stewardship and work with communities and leaseholders to ensure that land and water are protected today and for the future.