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County History



St. Louis County was established by legislative act on March 1, 1856. It is named for the St. Louis River, which flows through the county's southeast corner into Lake Superior.

The courthouse in the county seat of Duluth was built in 1909, and followed the next year with the building of a courthouse in Virginia.

Much of the county's population growth is linked to growth in industries that draw on the county's natural resources, including mining, timber and shipping.  It's been said that the United States couldn't have won World War II without the iron ore mined on the Iron Range, and the shipbuilding that took place in the shipyards in the Duluth-Superior Harbor.

Today, St. Louis County continues to contribute to the state and national economy in a variety of ways. For instance, we are home to the majority of Minnesota's iron mines, which produce 85 percent of the country's domestic iron. And the Port of Duluth-Superior is the #1 tonnage port on the Great Lakes, handling a variety of cargo including coal, iron ore, grain, limestone, wood pulp and wind turbine components.