Buy the book:

The Edge of Itasca is available at these locations (click the below link for more information on that bookstore):

Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery in Park Rapids, MN

Good Book & Gift in Little Falls, MN

Itasca State Park, MN (in the gift shop at Forest Inn)

Schoolcraft Gallery in Lake George, MN

You may also order from the author by sending a check for $24.90 ($19.95 plus $4.95 postage) to Ren Holland, 13225 Thomas Drive, Little Falls, MN 56345.  Book sellers should contact me for discounts before ordering.

Available only in paperback format. Not available as an eBook.

About the Book:

The Edge of Itasca, published in 2004, describes early settlement around the Source of the Mississippi at Minnesota’s Lake Itasca. Some of the subjects covered include early explorers, Ojibwe relocation, forest railroads, logging, early settlers, and the creation of Itasca State Park, including the contributions of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). A special section on local rural schools includes a yearly census of students attending through the 1950s. A personal view of growing up near the park during the 1940s includes life at a country store, fishing, hunting, entertainment, and how World War II affected families of the Itasca community.

Click here or visit my “Videos” tab to see a book trailer.


“The Edge of Itasca is the benchmark for the history and life around the headwaters of the Mississippi.  A thorough, informative, and very interesting read.”  -Jerry Fuller, “End of Line” columnist, Park Rapids Enterprise

“This book brings back memories of my early life in Minnesota and my special interest in railroads, including the logging railroads that once wound through the forests north of Akeley and near Itasca Park at the turn of the century.”  -Robert M. Hanft, railroad historian, author of Red River, and retired professor at California State University, Chico, California

“A particularly comprehensive local history, with lots of specific ordinary details that make several historical periods come alive for the reader.  I like the personal point of view throughout which makes this anything but dry.”  -Judge’s commentary, Writer’s Digest 12th Annual International Sel-Published Book Awards entry

Why I wrote The Edge of Itasca:

As each of us grows older, we increasingly look back into our own history to revive pleasant memories. In mine, the route to the past often takes me to my boyhood community at Little Mantrap Lake near the edge of Minnesota’s Itasca State Park. Within a few feet of our country store the heavily traveled U. S. Highway 71 led tourists to the park and its famous Source of the Mississippi. The source is the focal point of the park, along with historic log and stone structures surrounded by groves of towering old growth pines. These geographical, natural, and historic rarities have drawn millions to the area for recreation, hospitality, and scenery.

My memories of life at the small resort and store at Little Mantrap are filled with vivid images of neighbors, customers, events, and places. These recollections, combined with early history, can provide future generations living in the Mississippi Headwaters area with a map for tracing and enlightening area history as well as their own history.

Book photos:

To view a sampling of photos from the book, click here.