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Three Shell Prairies

March 9, 2013 by Hubbard County Historical Museum Director

What do you know about the Three Shell Prairies?  It is a question that comes up quite often at the museum.  If you have any information to share or know where there is a map that denotes the boundaries of these prairies please share.

I have unearthed the following information:

The open places which the early settlers found in the South Eastern part of Hubbard County were known as the Shell Prairies.  The First Shell Prairie was at Hubbard.  The Second Shell Prairie was Park Rapids and the Third  Shell Prairie was in Becker County at Osage/Ponsford.

It is believed that at one time nearly all of the prairies grew timber which was blown down and later burned.   The Indians would burn the prairies to make better pasture for deer.

Henry Vale and James Compton ( correction John Higgens Campton) settled in the west half of section 28 of Hubbard Township in April 1879 ( some references say 1878).  They came from Ohio to Verndale in Wadena County by railroad and made the remainder of the trip by team.  Others soon followed and settled near them.  It was not long before there were settlers on the Second Shell Prairie or Park Rapids. Most of the new settlers came from Ohio.

Park Rapids Townsite was filed by C. O. Todd on 1879.

Early Park Rapids view of the prairie

Early Park Rapids unknown date.


Annual Township meetings will take place this week.  The Hubbard County Historical Society and Museum has asked every township in Hubbard County for financial support.  If you attend the meetings this week please support our requests.  Thanks!


  1. SJ Rader says:

    I believe that the third Shell Prairie actually includes what is now called the Ponsford Prairie, possibly part of what you are locating at Osage. There is much more history on them in the Becker County History by Wilcox, 1907. If you google maps for the area, you can see the three areas, starting with Hubbard, then west of Park Rapids, and then the Osage-Ponsford Prairies. Now covered by irrigators (circles).

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