Itasca grew up around an Indian trading post which was established 800 feet east of here in 1849 by Thomas A. Holmes and James Beatty. At the suggestion of Territorial Governor Alexander Ramsey, the settlement was named in honor of Lake Itasca, the source of the Mississippi River. In 1852 a substantial hotel was built, the village was platted, and Itasca boasted the first post office in present Anoka County. There was even an unsuccessful attempt to locate the territorial capital here.seal of State of Minnesota Department of Highways
Itasca was a stopping place on the heavily traveled Red River Oxcart Trail between Pembina, North Dakota, and the steamboat landing in St. Paul. In 1857 cargoes of fur, buffalo robes, and meat valued at $120,000 arrived at St. Paul, and in 1858 more than 600 carts plied the trade. Traces of the old trail can be seen a few feet west of this marker.
The village's prosperity began to wane in 1856, when the removal of the roving Winnebago Indians from the Long Prairie Reservation took away the mainstay of local trade. By the eary 1860s the town was virtually deserted.
Itasca remained a post office until 1879, and it was the first mailing address of the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry, better known as the National Grange. This farm organization was founded by Oliver H. Kelley, who opened a Grange office in his home near here in 1868. For two years he mailed through the Itasca post office vast amounts of literature encouraging farmers to join the Grange.
seal of The Minnesota Historical Society, Instituted 1849
Erected by the Anoka County Historical Society