West Lakeland Township

When Minnesota became a state in 1858, and townships were being organized, Lakeland Township was proposed to extend from Stillwater to Afton on Lake St. Croix. However, there were already several communities established along the lake, with most people living in Baytown Village (Bayport) and Shanghai Cooley (Lakeland). Both communities’ citizens objected to going to the other place to vote or do business.

The township formation committee came up with a compromise: the north half of the township became Baytown and the south half Lakeland. Lakeland Township also wanted to extend its southern boundary. Afton objected. Another compromise gave Lakeland Township part of Afton that included the village of Lakeland.

West Lakeland Township was split off and organized in 1951 when the village of Lakeland incorporated. The village kept the developed land and the new township became strictly rural. West Lakeland remained farmland until the 1960s, when a housing boom occurred, particularly on the western edges.

In 1857 the Military Road from Point Douglas to Superior, Wisconsin, was surveyed through the township. This road, now called Stagecoach Trail, probably followed the line of a settlers’ road, as it passes the houses of many of the pioneers.

The St. Paul & Omaha trackage and railroad bridge to Hudson, dating from the early 1870s, skirt the northeast portion of the township, while the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad, built in 1880, traverses the town parallel to the lakeshore.

Before the railroads came, Lakeland was connected to Hudson by a ferry. The ferry ran from 1853 to 1913, the year the highway bridge from Hudson to Lakeland was opened, making the ferry unprofitable. This early highway bridge was a toll bridge that crossed from downtown Hudson to just north of the village of Lakeland. U.S. Highway 12 (Hudson Boulevard), its route later followed by Interstate 94, crossed the St. Croix on a large bridge south of downtown Hudson. This major highway forms the southern boundary of the township and provides direct access to St. Paul for commuters.

In terms of real estate in the area, West Lakeland Township is close to “built out” although it is still losing farms and gaining homes built on one- to-five acre lots. Its population in 2000 was more than 4,000, up 125 percent from the 1990 census.


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Updated: 27th October, 2020 8:21 PM (UTC).