Early Transportation in Jenkins

A network of waterways brought Native Americans through the Jenkins area long before the arrival of cartpaths, tote roads and highways. During the 1800’s, the water pathways also brought fur traders with trading posts popping up here and there, including the first one in the Jenkins area, Fort Poualak, which in French means, "of unknown origin". Other maps show that besides the land route "Old Leech Lake Trail" the canoe route from Gull to Leech Lake included a portage from Sibley Lake to Upper Hay Lake. So Jenkins was a crossroads of land and water routes between Crow Wing and later Brainerd and Leech Lake.

Then, in 1893 the Brainerd and Northern Railroad Company, seeking northward expansion from its then northern-most landing at Lake Margaret by Nisswa, selected a route through Jenkins. The sale to the railroad of a 100 foot strip of land owned by George and Isabella Jenkins in 1894 became the seed for a boom town with rail transportation fully in place by 1895. By 1904 when Jenkins was incorporated into a village, already nearly 350,000 tons of freight and over 25,000 passengers had been hauled on the BNRC lines. Transportation was changed forever.

As logging began to wane, railroads’ importance did too and by the mid to late 1900’s, trains that were still hauling at all were hauling pulpwood. The railroad discontinued passenger service to Jenkins in 1963. By then, America’s fascination with the automobile was in full swing and a new transportation network had formed. Surfaced roads were becoming more and more common, making automobile transportation safer, easier and more convenient.