Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge
Mountain-Prairie Region
~ Historical Information ~

Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge is located astride the Wild Rice River, which flows from west to east and then north out of Lake Tewaukon. Numerous pothole wetlands dot the gently rolling glacial till plain which forms the prairie. A mile or two to the south rise the beautiful hills of the Coteau, a glacial moraine.

Rich bird and animal life associated with the many lakes and marshes made the Lake Tewaukon area a heavily used hunting and living site for early man. Historian S.M. Thorfinnson writes in Sargent County History, that Lake Tewaukon was named for an ancient religious leader, the "Son of Heaven or the Great Khan, Te Wauk Kon" who directed the building of a temple on the high hill south of the lake. "Indians of many tribes had been here for hundreds of years before the white man came," says Thorfinnson.

The earliest known map of the area was completed in 1838 and named Lake Tewaukon "Pole Cat Lake". Later it was called "Skunk Lake," due, no doubt, to the smell of algae rotting in the summer sun. The county's first farm was started in 1878 on the east side of Lake Tewaukon.

For many years much of the area was farmed. Concern for wildlife by many local sportsmen resulted in authorization of the Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge. Gradually, the land was purchased and habitat improvement projects were begun. Grass, trees, and shrubs were planted and wildlife food plots were established. In the 1960's four large dams were built to control the Wild Rice River resulting in hundreds of acres of lakes and marshes, and creating nesting and migration habitat for waterfowl.


Small building served as Refuge Headquarters  in 1969

Refuge office in 1969.


Last updated: March 10, 2011