The Chisago Lakes Area is named after an Indian phrase, “Ki Chi Saga,” which means “fair & lovely waters.” The Swedish simply called it “The Big Lake,” as many of today’s area lake comprised one large lake. The Chisago Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce includes the combined areas of Shafer, Center City, Chisago City and Lindstrom. Swedish immigrants settled in the Chisago Lakes area in the mid-1800s. The area became a popular tourist area, with the lakes and railroad coming through. The Depression years dried up the lakes and the tourists. There was a growth of tourism in the late 1940s, as the lakes began to prosper once again.
Sister-city to Algutsboda, Sweden
Originally platted in 1855, Chisago City was replatted at another location in 1892 and incorporated in 1906. Chisago City became a tourist resort destination after the 1880 railroad was built. Chisago City was home to Vilhelm Moberg during the summer of 1947, while he rode his bike through the area gathering information about the area for his original trilogy of books: The Emigrants, Unto a New Land and The Settlers. He wrote a fourth book, called The Last Letter Home, to create a four-volume saga of Swedish Immigrants in North America. The City has dedicated their park and a statue, housed in the park, to Vilhelm Moberg.
Sister-City to Hassela, Sweden
Center City was founded in 1851 and was the first permanent Swedish settlement in Minnesota. It became the county seat in 1875. The Chisago Lakes Lutheran Church was the first Swedish settled church in the area, being organized in 1854 in the barn of Per Berg. Highway 8 follows much of the old railroad bed through the city of Center City. Today, two blocks along Summit Avenue, including 18 homes, are listed as a National Historic District.
Sister-City to Tingsryd, Sweden
Lindstrom is Sister-city to Tingsryd, Sweden. Lindstrom was platted in 1880 and officially founded in 1894 and named after Daniel Lindstrom from Hassela, Häksingtand, Sweden. Karl Oskar and his wife, Kristina are central to the city’s celebrations. They are fictitious characters, representing the many immigrant families that settled in the “land of kichisaga” in the mid 1800s. They’d fled from a life of struggle in their homeland of Smaland, Sweden to rebuild their lives in an unclaimed territory. A statue of Karl and Kristina symbolize the Swedish peasants who migrated to America over one hundred years ago, settling in the Chisago Lakes area.
Sister-City to Nöbbele, Sweden
Shafer is a farming community and was once a potato hub. Shafer was first organized as part of Taylors Falls. In 1853, the town was renamed after a transient farm worker, Jacob Shafer, from Sweden. The Shafer community is proud of its heritage. Throughout the year, events are held in a “town square” kind of atmosphere.