Beltrami County has over 116,000 acres of lakes and 459,000 acres of state forest lands. It is comprised of 86 townships and contains portions of two Indian reservations, Red Lake and Leech Lake.
Beltrami County was named after the Italian, Count Beltrami, an early explorer of the area. In 1887 Beltrami County was part of one of the state’s original nine counties: Benton, Dakotah, Itasca, Ramsey, Mahkahta, Pembina, Wabasha, Wishington and Wahnata. The County was created in 1866 and organized in 1896 with 137 townships.
Nineteen townships were given to Roseau County in 1895, reducing Beltrami County to 118 full and 37 fractional townships. On May 17, 1897, Beltrami County was fully organized with Bemidji as the county seat.
In 1902, Clearwater County was created by vote of the residents of Beltrami County. Twenty-eight full and two fractional townships went to the new county.
On January 1, 1923, the last county to be created in Minnesota, Lake of the Woods County was created and Beltrami County reached its present size of 1,604,695 acres.