In reviewing the history of Sherburne County, significant attention is given to the agriculture industry, or to transportation, specifically the railroads. An area of the economy in Sherburne County that receives very little attention, an area that warrants greater attention, is the hospitality industry. From the beginning of the county to today, hotels and hospitality played a significant role in the county. Starting with Brown’s Hotel in Big Lake and continuing with the Riverside House and the Blanchett Hotel in Elk River. Also, we need to note the inn at Bailey Station in the 1870s. All of these establishments played a significant role in the economic history of Sherburne County.
Brown’s Hotel in Big Lake marks the beginning of hospitality industry. Before the county was created, Joseph Brown advertised in the Sauk Rapids newspaper, promoting Big Lake as a stopping off point for fine fishing and other activities for sportsmen.A few years later The Riverside House and the Blanchett Hotel in Elk River provided a resting spot for travelers coming through by train or by the Mississippi River. Both hotels, under a variety of names served fine dining and restful respite for travelers through Elk River.
Another significant rest station along the tracks and roads on Sherburne County was the Bailey Station. An inn managed by Orlando Bailey, for a time, was described as a very luxurious location with fine chandelier hanging in the dining room.
In addition to all of these, lesser rest stops were located in Becker and Clear Lake. And in the north, in Zimmerman, hosted a hotel for travelers.
Throughout Sherburne County, hotels and Inns were built to provide travelers and vacationers with spots to rest and relax. This hospitality industry warrants greater appreciation in the discovery of the history of Sherburne County.