In the late 1890s, the Banning Sandstone Quarry employed 500 workers who chiseled the rock into massive blocks. The strength and pink color of this sandstone made it very popular for building construction.
By 1896 a village was platted on the fields above the quarry and named in honor of William L. Banning, president of the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad.
The village grew and by the turn of the century it was incorporated with a population of approximately 300.
The Great Hinkley Minnesota Fire of September 1, 1894, a forest fire that destroyed 400 square miles of forest and six towns in four hours, taking 418 lives including 248 who were never identified.
Pine County is not only attuned to the Great Outdoors, it boasts clear lakes and trout streams, wild and scenic rivers, towering pine forests, and teeming wildlife that remain as they were when the first fur trading voyageur ventured to the region in the mid-Eighteenth Century. The totals alone are impressive: 635,000 acres of wildlife area, five state forests, two state parks, twenty trout streams, and almost 100 lakes!
Banning State Park was established in 1963 with 5,246 acres. In 1971, the acreage increased to 5,877 and in 1986, the park boundary was expanded to include a total of 6,237 acres. A 10-mile stretch of the Kettle River, designated as a state Wild and Scenic River, bisects the park. The park's water resources include the Kettle River, Wolf Creek, Log Creek, six streams and three springs. The scenic Kettle River includes Big Spring Falls, Sandstone Rapids, Blueberry Slide, Mother's Delight, Dragon's Tooth, Little Banning and Hell's Gate. These rapids provide one of the states most challenging whitewater experiences for canoe and kayak enthusiasts.