Bemidji, city (1990 pop. 11,245), seat of Beltrami co., N central Minn., on lakes Bemidji and Irving, through which flows the Mississippi River; inc. 1896. It is in a summer and winter resort and sport fishing area; tourism is the major industry. The city is also a trade and marketing center for the dairy farms of the region. Manufactures include building materials, textiles, trusses, beverages, consumer goods, and wood products. On the lakeshore stands an 18-ft (5.5-m) figure of Paul Bunyan and his ox. Bemidji State Univ. is there.

Bemidji is a city in Beltrami County, Minnesota, United States. Its population was estimated at 13,419 in 2007. It is the county seat of Beltrami County. Bemidji lies on the southwest shore of Lake Bemidji, the northernmost lake feeding the Mississippi River and, as such, is deemed "the first city on the Mississippi."

Its name derives from the Ojibwe Bay-may-ji-ga-maug (Double-Vowel orthography: bemijigamaag), meaning "lake that traverses another body of water". On occasion, in Ojibwe, the city of Bemidji is called Wabigamaang ("at the lake channel/narrows"), because part of the city is situated on the Lakes Bemidji/Irving narrows, located on the south end of Lake Bemidji, and extends to the eastern shore of Lake Irving.

Bemidji is home to Bemidji State University, Northwest Technical College, and Oak Hills Christian College. It's also headquarters of Bemidji Woolen Mills. The statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, well-known landmarks, are downtown on the lakefront. Lake Bemidji State Park offers year-round recreation.

Bemidji is home to one of five flight bases in the state for North Memorial Medical Center of Robbinsdale (a Level 1 Trauma Center located in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area), MeritCare Clinic (which operates five facilities in Bemidji), and North Country Health Services.

NFL Pro Football Hall of Famer Dave Casper was born in Bemidji, as was actress Jane Russell.

Bemidji is also home base for Paul Bunyan Broadcasting, a group of sixteen radio stations in Bemidji, Baxter, Wadena and Alexandria.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.9 square miles (33.5 km²), of which, 11.8 square miles (30.5 km²) of it is land and 1.2 square miles (3.1 km²) of it (9.11%) is water.

Four-lane U.S. Route 2, U.S. Route 71, and Minnesota State Highway 197 are three of the main routes in the city. Minnesota State Highways 89 and 371 are nearby.

The largest earthquake on record for the Bemidji area was recorded on September 3, 1917. It is claimed that it shook houses down in Bemidji and across northern Minnesota. (Little Falls Daily Transcript, September 4, 1917) The epicenter was about 95 miles away in Staples, Minnesota. It affected an area of 48,000 km², and was rated a magnitude 4.4 with a maximum intensity of VI to VII. The closest and most recent quake occurred in Walker, MN on September 27, 1982 with a magnitude of 2.0.


As of the census of 2000, there were 11,917 people, 4,669 households, and 2,427 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,011.8 people per square mile (390.6/km²). There were 4,948 housing units at an average density of 420.1/sq mi (162.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 84.31% White American, 0.76% African American, 11.52% Native American, 1.12% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.20% from other races, and 2.06% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.14% of the population.

There were 4,669 households out of which 25.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.0% were married couples living together, 14.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.0% were non-families. 35.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.2% under the age of 18, 24.9% from 18 to 24, 23.0% from 25 to 44, 15.4% from 45 to 64, and 15.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 87.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,072, and the median income for a family was $37,250. Males had a median income of $28,312 versus $20,694 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,264. About 13.2% of families and 19.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.7% of those under age 18 and 10.9% of those age 65 or over.


Bemidji is a progressive college town with strong technology and art influences. The city's streets are lined with small shops and art sculptures. The community puts high importance on art, music, science, and religion. The city offers a quaint, laidback feel and lifestyle. Politically the city is relatively liberal. .

The Concordia Language Villages are located near Bemidji and this has, perhaps, been influential in the existence of several language conversational groups (including French, Norwegian, Spanish, Italian, and German) that meet weekly in local coffee houses.

During the summer the Paul Bunyan Playhouse operates a non-equity, summer stock theater.

The city is well known to fans of the sport of curling. Both men's and women's rinks from the Bemidji Curling Club won the right to represent the United States in the 2005 World Curling Championship and the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. Pete Fenson, the skip of the U.S. curling team that took the bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics, is a native of Bemidji.

A city referendum for a Bemidji Regional Events Center passed by a slim majority of 43 votes out of 4583 votes cast in November 2006. The center is expected to cost $50 million. While the major tenant for the center is expected to be the Bemidji State University (BSU) hockey team, the current status of the men's hockey team is uncertain as it attempts to enter the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). Information on this project can be found at Bemidji Events



TV stations

Most of Bemidji's TV stations primarily rebroadcast the television stations of Minneapolis.

Channel Digital
Call sign Affiliation Owner
9 22 KAWE PBS Northern MN Public TV
12 20 KCCW CBS
(WCCO-TV relay)
CBS Corporation
26 26* KFTC MyNetworkTV
(WFTC relay)
Fox Television Stations
28 none K28DD ABC
(KSAX translator)
Hubbard Broadcasting
30 none K30DK Fox
(KMSP translator)
Fox Television Stations
42 none K42FH TBN Trinity Brd. Network
48 48* K48KI 3ABN Three Angels Brd. Network
* Digital channel has been assigned by the FCC, but will not be on the air until after February 17, 2009.

Radio stations


FM radio stations
Frequency Call sign Name Format Owner
88.5 FM KCRB MPR/NPR Classical music Minnesota Public Radio
89.7 FM KBSB FM 90 College radio/Top 40 (CHR) Bemidji State Univ.
91.3 FM KNBJ MPR/NPR News/Talk Minnesota Public Radio
92.1 FM WMIS The River 92.1 Talk RP Broadcasting
92.7 FM W224AB Psalm 99:5 Christian
(KBHW translator)
Oak Hills Fellowship
93.5 FM K228EW Lifetalk Radio Christian
(KOPJ translator)
We Have This Hope
94.9 FM K235BP Your Q FM Contemporary Christian music
(KKEQ translator)
Shine the Light, Inc.
95.5 FM KKZY KZY 95.5 Adult contemporary Paul Bunyan Broadcasting
98.3 FM WBJI Real Country 98.3 Classic country RP Broadcasting
99.1 FM KLLZ Z99 Classic rock Paul Bunyan Broadcasting
101.1 FM KBHP KB101 Country Paul Bunyan Broadcasting
102.5 FM KKWB -- under construction De La Hunt Broadcasting
103.1 FM K276EP Lifetalk Radio Christian
(KOPJ translator)
De La Hunt Broadcasting
103.7 FM KKBJ-FM Mix 103.7 Hot AC RP Broadcasting
104.5 FM WQXJ True Oldies 104.5 Oldies Paul Bunyan Broadcasting
105.3 FM K287AD Northern Community Radio
(NPR/IPR affiliate)
Public radio
(KAXE translator)
Northern Community Radio
106.3 FM KBJI-LP -- 3ABN affiliate
(Christian format)
Bemidji Religious Ed. Brd.
107.1 FM KKEQ Your Q FM Contemporary Christian music Pine to Prairie Brd.


AM radio stations
820 AM WBKK -- under construction De La Hunt Broadcasting
1360 AM KKBJ Talkradio 1360 News/Talk RP Broadcasting
1450 AM KBUN The Fan Sports
(KFAN/FSR programming)
Paul Bunyan Broadcasting


  • Best of Bemidji Quarterly Magazine - direct mailed magazine to every home in the greater Bemidji area, BOB features ads from local businesses with no editorial copy. Most ads are coupons.
  • Northwoods Woman - Bimonthly glossy magazine launched July 1, 2008 includes articles about women who live and work in northern Minnesota. Also available in Walker, Park Rapids and surrounding areas.



External links

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