Lake Pulaski History continued

  The Sioux, or Dakota as they now prefer, Indians camped, hunted, and fished this area between the lakes Buffalo and Pulaski for more than 300 years. It was a favorite camping ground of the Dakota and was where some bands came in summer to fish and gather cranberries and in winter to hunt deer.

The earliest white settlers were fur traders who came out of Minneapolis to trade with the Winnebago Indians. Edmund Brissett was a Canadian fur trader who had come to Fort Snelling in 1832. His principal trading post was near Lake Harriet in Hennepin County. He opened a trading post on the west end of Lake Pulaski possibly as early as 1849, definitely by 1850. In 1851 Brissett and his associates cut a road through the timber to Buffalo Lake. The road passed from Lake Calhoun, along the west shores of Medicine Lake, Independence Lake and Lake Sarah, crossing the Crow River at Rockford, passing north of the present Rockford-Buffalo road. It was a crooked, narrow track but was used extensively by traders and the earliest settlers. It was still in use as late as 1858. The Brissett post was abandoned in 1855 when the Winnebagos were removed to the west.
Buffalo owes its existence to the two lakes, Buffalo and Pulaski. They drew the earliest settlers, provided food, ice, and recreation for the past 130 years, drew tourists in our resort days, and still today contribute greatly to our quality-of-life, pride and even “notoriety” as a community. On the north edge of the town is the gem of all the lakes, Lake Pulaski, which has neither outlet nor inlet but is a spring fed lake and as a consequence its waters are pure, clear and cold and while it is a deep lake yet it is an easy matter to look down through the water and see the fish and other water animals and reptiles swimming and crawling on the bottom. It has clean, gravelly and sandy shores and is surrounded by homes.”
 Resorts on both Pulaski and Buffalo Lakes once brought hundreds of people to our town each summer. From about 1890 through 1920 the summer population nearly doubled than found here in the winter. The summer trains would arrive filled with passengers and went on west from this point nearly empty. World War I travel restrictions and then a succession of cold and rainy summers gave a lethal blow to Buffalo’s resort industry. When people were again ready to make summer plans in the mid-1920s, improved roads and train service to resort lakes farther west and north shifted the location of popular summer resorts, and Buffalo’s resorts were forgotten.
The Griffing park on the banks of Lake Pulaski is well known. At one time a splendid expanse of two acres of heavily wooded land, it was an ideal place for outings and picnics. Bathing houses were erected so that the people could take the fullest advantage of the sandy bathing beach. Beaches and tables and other comforts were provided.
For over 20 years Buffalo was well known as a resort town. Both Buffalo and Pulaski were famous for the great fishing and bathing facilities. Pike, crappies, bass and pickerel were plentiful. The railroad made it convenient for persons from the Twin Cities to travel here for their vacation. Often families would come for the whole summer, while the father would travel out each weekend from the city. The depot was very busy in the summers, especially on Fridays and Sundays, and each resort had their own “bus” that would meet each train in order to carry customers to their place of business. The resort business began to die when the arrival of the automobile made it easier for vacationers to range father a field and not be restricted to lakes near the railroad lines.
Water levels have long been a concern for Buffalo citizens. The rise of the water level at Lake Pulaski has been a problem for various lake shore residents since the early 1970s. At first the problem was blamed on a heavy snow or rainfall, but over the last fifteen years the situation grew from a few wet basements to dozens of homes severely damaged by the water. Finally, after numerous meetings and hearings — involving the home owners, the city, the township, the county, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the Army Corps of Engineers — an agreement was made for funding the Lake Pulaski Stabilization Project in the fall of 1986. The project was to cost $1.4 million, $346,125 to be borne by the citizens living on the lake. The project called for pumping water from Pulaski, if the lake level was above 966 feet above sea level and if Buffalo lake is 915.5 feet or lower, through the city storm water system to Buffalo Lake, which naturally overflows to the Crow River. Improvements to the city’s storm sewer system began in September, 1986, and the pumping began in February, 1987. The pumps are located at Griffing Park on Pulaski and can pump 8000 gallons per minute; and the storm water system empties into Buffalo Lake just west of the Court House. Within just a few months the water levels were brought down to the project’s goal. For 30 years the residents of Lake Pulaski have been cleaning up the beaches and rebuilding their homes around the lake. Today the lake level is kept at a supervised level. The lake is home for mainly full time residents rather than the cottages and summer dwellers of the past.