White Bear Lake
Beartown, WBL
City of Lakes and Legends
Location of the city of White Bear Lake within Ramsey and Washington Counties in the state of Minnesota
Location of the city of White Bear Lake
within Ramsey and Washington Counties
in the state of Minnesota
Coordinates: 45°03′50″N 93°0′30″W / 45.06389°N 93.00833°W / 45.06389; -93.00833
CountryUnited States
CountiesRamsey, Washington
Incorporated (village)February 18, 1881
Incorporated (city)October 11, 1921
 • MayorDan Louismet
 • Total8.63 sq mi (22.36 km2)
 • Land8.04 sq mi (20.84 km2)
 • Water0.59 sq mi (1.53 km2)
Elevation942 ft (287 m)
 • Total24,883
 • Estimate 
 • Density3,092.98/sq mi (1,194.24/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code651
FIPS code27-69970
GNIS feature ID2397299[2]
Sales tax8.375%[5]

White Bear Lake is a city in Ramsey County in the state of Minnesota, United States. A small portion of the city also extends into Washington County. The population was 24,883 at the 2020 census.[3] The city is located on White Bear Lake, one of the largest lakes in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area.

Origin of name

The city is named after its largest lake, White Bear Lake. American writers have delivered differing versions of the legend that explains the origin of the name. In her book Indian Legends of Minnesota, Mrs. Carl T. Thayer writes that "It is said that a Sioux maiden fell in love with a Chippewa brave. She, the daughter of the Chief, on learning that her father planned war against the Chippewa, ran to her lover and warned him. The brave went alone into the Sioux village to ask for peace and the hand of the maiden. Before the Chief would agree, the Chippewa would have to do a brave deed."[6]

"The lovers usually met on Manitou Island. One day, as the brave approached the Island, anticipating a meeting with his beloved, he saw, to his horror, a great white bear attacking her. He dashed to her rescue. Freed, she ran to get help from her father and the other Sioux. Returning, they saw the brave sink his knife into the bear. But too late, they both fell to the ground dead. Slowly, as they watched, the spirits of the brave and the bear rose from their prone bodies. It is said that even today, as night falls, the spirits of the bear and the brave wander the Island eternally in search of each other."[6]

In Mark Twain's memoir Life on the Mississippi, he offers a different ending, relaying that "… the warrior, with one plunge of the blade of his knife, opened the crimson sluices of death, and the dying bear relaxed his hold. "That night, there was no more sleep for the band or the lovers, and as the young and the old danced about the carcass of the dead monster, the gallant warrior was presented with another plume, and ere another moon had set he had a living treasure added to his heart. Their children for many years played upon the skin of the white bear – from which the lake derives its name, and the maiden and the brave remembered long the fearful scene and rescue that made them one, for Kis-se-me-pa and Ka-go-ga could never forget their fearful encounter with the huge monster that came so near sending them to the happy hunting ground."[7]


The Charles P. Noyes Cottage dates back to the days when White Bear Lake was a resort town.

The railroad was the largest man-made happening in White Bear Lake. On September 10, 1868, the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad officially opened the extension to White Bear Lake. This was a gala occasion. Ten platform cars of 300 men and four passenger cars for 200 ladies made the trip from St. Paul.

By 1874, Mark Twain had included White Bear Lake as the resort in his "Life on the Mississippi." The "American Travelers Journal" 1881 proclaimed, "One of the most popular resorts in the magic northlands is White Bear Lake." Barnum's hotel became the Leip House, featuring a ballroom, billiard room, dancing pavilion, bowling alley, and boats. F.C. Williams opened the Williams House on the Murray property on Lake Avenue. James Waters opened the White Bear House at the depot. In 1879, the Ramaley Pavilion was opened and described as "perhaps the finest structure around the lake" (Breeze 1890). There was Lake Side Cottage on Lake north of 6th and "Château gay." Shady Side, Bachelor's Rest and Hotel Benson were three of the resorts at Bald Eagle Lake.

The Cottage Park summer residents built a club house in 1881 where they had their meals, entertainment and social life. In 1881, the Manitou Implement Co. developed the Island for cottages with the added important feature of water works. The "Fillebrown" house on Lake Avenue was built in 1879 by C.P. Noyes. It was purchased in 1881 by Judge George Young and in 1905 purchased by the J. Walter Fillebrown family who donated the house to the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society in the 1970s.

The City of White Bear Lake was incorporated on October 11, 1921.

In 1940, Nellie Geraldine Best painted a tempera mural, Early Voyageurs at Portage, as part of the WPA's nationwide mural project for the post office in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. The location of this mural is unknown. It may have been removed during a post office remodeling.[8]

White Bear Lake High School and Mariner High School merged in 1983 to form White Bear Lake Area High School. There are still two buildings, now the North Campus and South Campus. North Campus (White Bear Lake High School) holds classes for freshman and sophomores while South Campus (the former Mariner High School) holds classes for juniors and seniors. The two buildings have a combined total of about 3,000 students.

The murder of three-year-old Dennis Jurgens in 1965 at the hands of his adoptive mother, Lois Jurgens, was arguably the biggest scandal to hit the town with her conviction in 1987. The story was recounted in Barry Siegel's true crime novel A Death in White Bear Lake.

In 1953, the Lakeshore Players Community Theater was organized.[9] Lakeshore Players formerly operated out of a former church building constructed in 1889, at 4820 Stewart Avenue. In 2018 they moved to a new building in 2018 next to the White Bear Center for the Arts.

The White Bear Center for the Arts was officially organized on May 16, 1968 and moved to their new location at 4971 Long Avenue in the fall of 2013.

The White Bear Lake Area Historical Society was incorporated on September 25, 1970 and gathers, preserves and shares the stories of the five communities that touch the shore of White Bear Lake – Birchwood, Dellwood, Mahtomedi, White Bear Lake, and White Bear Township.[1]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.66 square miles (22.43 km2), of which 8.02 square miles (20.77 km2) is land and 0.64 square miles (1.66 km2) is water.[10]

U.S. Highway 61, Ramsey County Highway 96, Minnesota State Highway 96, Interstate 35E, and Interstate 694 are five of the main routes in the city.


Historical population
2022 (est.)23,588[4]−5.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[11]
2020 Census[3]

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 23,797 people, 9,945 households, and 6,304 families living in the city. The population density was 2,967.2 inhabitants per square mile (1,145.6/km2). There were 10,479 housing units at an average density of 1,306.6 per square mile (504.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.1% White, 2.5% African American, 0.4% Native American, 3.5% Asian, 0.9% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.3% of the population.

There were 9,945 households, of which 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.2% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 36.6% were non-families. 30.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.92.

The median age in the city was 40.6 years. 21.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.9% were from 25 to 44; 28% were from 45 to 64; and 16.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.3% male and 51.7% female.

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 24,325 people, 9,618 households, and 6,649 families living in the city. The population density was 2,974.3 inhabitants per square mile (1,148.4/km2). There were 9,813 housing units at an average density of 1,199.9 per square mile (463.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.31% White, 1.08% African American, 0.37% Native American, 1.54% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.35% from other races, and 1.31% from two or more races. 1.75% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 9,618 households, out of which 32.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.2% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.9% were non-families. 25.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 24.8% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 22.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $52,934, and the median income for a family was $60,196. Males had a median income of $41,699 versus $31,797 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,338. About 3.3% of families and 4.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.5% of those under age 18 and 5.7% of those age 65 or over.


Smarte Carte, a company that provides baggage carts to many airports around the world, is headquartered in White Bear Lake, near Interstate 35E and Ramsey County Highway 96. International Paper, one of the largest pulp and paper companies in the world, operates a significant facility in northern White Bear Lake on 9th Street across from Podvin Park. Next door is Magnepan, a manufacturer of high-end audio loudspeakers.

Public schools

The White Bear Lake school system includes nine elementary sites, two middle school sites, and two high school sites. In addition to these, there is also an area learning center located at the former Golfview Elementary site. The White Bear Lake Area Schools operate as Independent School District 624.


In the summer, many families take sailboat rides or go tubing. There is also a Marketfest festival that happens every Thursday night in Downtown White Bear consisting of many different food trucks and games for all ages.[12]

During the winter months, ice fishing is popular on the lake, along with snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. If ice conditions are free of surface snow, iceboats can be found sailing at high speeds. The downtown area features restaurants, bars, and a variety of unique shops and services.

Elementary schools (grades K–5)

Middle schools (grades 6–8)

High schools (grades 9–12)


Private schools

Notable people


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 24, 2022.
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: White Bear Lake, Minnesota
  3. ^ a b c "Explore Census Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 31, 2023.
  4. ^ a b "City and Town Population Totals: 2020-2022". United States Census Bureau. December 31, 2023. Retrieved December 31, 2023.
  5. ^ "White Bear Lake (MN) sales tax rate". Retrieved December 31, 2023.
  6. ^ a b Thayer, Mrs. Carl T. (1883) Indian Legends of Minnesota. J.R. Osgood & Co. pp. 583–593.
  7. ^ Twain, Mark (1883). Life on the Mississippi. p. 399.
  8. ^ Kallermeyn, Pat. "The Canoe: A Vehicle for the Spirit". Canoeing.com. Canoeing.com. Archived from the original on June 4, 2016. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  9. ^ "Lakeshore Players Timeline". lakeshoreplayers.org. lakeshoreplayers.org. Archived from the original on June 20, 2018. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  10. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on January 25, 2012. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
  11. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  12. ^ "Marketfest | Summer Fun in Downtown White Bear". Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  13. ^ Science. "NASA names eight new astronaut trainees -- half of them women".
  14. ^ "Alice Ingram To Be Married". The Daily Telegram. October 1, 1955. p. 5. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved July 7, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon