Red River Ox-Cart Trails

  • Early commerce between the Selkirk settlement (Winnipeg) and St. Paul was attained by slow-moving, awkward-looking caravans of oxen-towed wagons, known as RED RIVER OX-CARTS.
  • The routes established in the 1800's included a trail that traversed western Mahnomen County. The trail was established in 1844 and was known as the Woods Trail. Actually only a small section was of forest. The landscape from Pembina, ND to Detroit Lakes was virtually all prairie.
  • The trail entered Mahnomen County near the farm owned by David Pederson. It followed a course southeast, crossing the Wild Rice River near the Vincent and Eloise Kettner farm. From there the trail angled southeast crossing Thunder Hills -- a series of rolling ridges in southern Pembina and Popple Grove townships.
  • Some Mahnomen County residents may recall the deep rutted tracks left by the ox-carts in the prairie soil. Few of the original tracks remain.
  • There are, also deep rutted tracks east of the town site of Beaulieu. They can still be seen in parts of a pasture.
  • These trails contributed significantly to both the history of Manitoba and the history of Minnesota.
  • Mahnomen County is a part of that history!