Prior Lake, Minnesota

Prior Lake (Dakota: Mayátho Bdé) is an exurban city 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Minneapolis seated next to Savage and Shakopee in Scott County in the state of Minnesota. Surrounding the shores of Lower and Upper Prior Lake, the city lies south of the Minnesota River in an area known as RiverSouth and establishes the urban fringe of the south-southwest portion of Minneapolis-St. Paul, the sixteenth largest metropolitan area in the United States. The population of Prior Lake was 22,796 at the 2010 census.[5]

Prior Lake
View of Prior Lake during winter


Location of the city of Prior Lake
within Scott County, Minnesota
Coordinates: 44°42′48″N 93°25′22″W
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedMay 5, 1891
  MayorKirt Briggs
  City ManagerJason Wedel
  City19.09 sq mi (49.44 km2)
  Land15.90 sq mi (41.19 km2)
  Water3.18 sq mi (8.25 km2)  15.77%%
948 ft (289 m)
  Density1,660.02/sq mi (640.92/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central)
  Summer (DST)UTC-5 (Central)
ZIP code
Area code(s)952
FIPS code27-52594
GNIS feature ID0649740[4]
WebsiteCity of Prior Lake

Prior Lake was first incorporated as a village in 1891. Prior Lake is one of the oldest cities in the south metro area. The city's modern rapid growth is due in part to the ease of access for commuters to the rest of the region, via the upgraded State Highway 13.[6][7]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.33 square miles (47.47 km2); 15.44 square miles (39.99 km2) is land and 2.89 square miles (7.49 km2) is water.[8]

Upper Prior Lake and Lower Prior Lake sit at the center of the city in an elongated shape towards the southwest to Spring Lake. Prior Lake as a whole is the largest lake in the southern metro area.


Historical population
Est. 201826,840[3]17.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]
2015 Estimate[10]

As of the 2000, the median income for a household in the city was $75,363, and the median income for a family was $81,011. The per capita income for the city was $32,089. About 1.7% of families and 12.4% of the population were below the poverty line.

2010 census

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 22,796 people, 8,447 households, and 6,211 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,476.4 inhabitants per square mile (570.0/km2). There were 8,882 housing units at an average density of 575.3 per square mile (222.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.0% White, 1.5% African American, 1.6% Native American, 3.0% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 2.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.1% of the population.

There were 8,447 households of which 40.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.3% were married couples living together, 8.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 26.5% were non-families. 20.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.14.

The median age in the city was 37.8 years. 28.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 28.9% were from 25 to 44; 27.4% were from 45 to 64; and 9.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.7% male and 50.3% female.

Government and politics

Prior Lake is governed by a mayor and four council members serving at large. The city Mayor and Council are elected non-partisan. The city mayor is Kirt Briggs. He succeeded Ken Hedberg, who won an uncontested election in 2012, succeeding Mike Myser. The council members are Kevin Burkart, Zach Braid, Warren Erickson and Annette Thompson. The city is run by a City Manager, Jason Wedel. The city is in Minnesota Legislative District 35A. The State Senate District 55 Senator is Eric Pratt (R). The district 55B Representative is Tony Albright (Republican).

Prior Lake is located in Minnesota's 2nd congressional district, represented by Angie Craig, a Democrat.

Portions of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) tribal lands are within the boundary of the City of Prior Lake as annexed in 1972. The SMSC is a federally recognized, sovereign Native American tribe of Mdewakanton Dakota people[11]. The overlap of a Minnesota Statutory City with federally recognized Indian Tribal lands resulted in litigation to clarify the boundary and voting rights. In a 1984 United States District Court ruling, the court affirmed that the municipal boundary of the City of Prior Lake did include the tribal lands in question. The Court further clarified that the tribal residents were thus residents of the City of Prior Lake entitled to vote in municipal elections and to emergency police, fire, and rescue services. The Court ordered the City to provide emergency services on an equal basis as all other residents even though the federal trust status of the tribal lands deprives the City of the authority to tax the tribal lands to fund such services. In recent years, the SMSC has paid the City of Prior Lake for the cost of those emergency services on a voluntary basis.[12]

Arts, culture and media

The Prior Lake American is the main city newspaper. The Savage Pacer is also common in Prior Lake. The Star Tribune South Edition also offers some coverage.

Following the 1999 Columbine High School Massacre, journalist Elinor Burkett spent a year following students and teachers in Prior Lake High School. She chose Prior Lake as her subject because it was found to be virtually identical to Columbine demographically. She documented her experience in the book Another Planet: A Year in the Life of a Suburban High School (ISBN 0-06-050585-0).

The Mystic Showroom at the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake is an entertainment venue that frequently features A-list musical and comedy performers[13].


The City of Prior Lake is within the Prior Lake-Savage School District. Prior Lake -Savage Area Schools (PLSAS) serve students in the communities of Prior Lake, Savage, Credit River Township, Spring Lake Township, Sand Creek Township, and Cedar Lake Township.

  • Prior Lake High School
  • Bridges Alternative Learning Center
  • Hidden Oaks Middle School
  • Twin Oaks Middle School
  • Edgewood School
  • Five Hawks Elementary
  • Glendale Elementary
  • Grainwood Elementary
  • Jeffers Pond Elementary
  • Westwood Elementary
  • Redtail Ridge Elementary
  • SAGE Academy
  • La Ola De Lago (Spanish immersion school in Edgewood school)

Prior Lake also has a private Roman Catholic parochial school, St. Michael Catholic School, which serves grades PreK through 8. Prior Lake also has a Lutheran church Missouri Synod parochial school, St. Paul's Lutheran School Prior Lake, which serves children from infant through grade 8.

Notable people


Prior Lake (named after Charles Prior, of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul railroad) is made up of two sections, Upper Prior Lake and Lower Prior Lake. The area of each is 354 and 810 acres (3.3 km2) respectively. Upper prior Lake flows Northerly, draining into the larger, Lower prior Lake via a navigable channel that runs under Eagle Creek Avenue Scott County Highway 21. Prior Lake is a popular destination for fishing and water sports. Prior Lake is also popular with snowmobilers and can be accessed using the Scott County Snowmobile Trail and other designated trails in the winter. On April 10, 2009, zebra mussel shells were discovered on the shore of Lower Prior Lake. On April 14, the DNR confirmed that the Zebra Mussels were also in Upper Prior Lake.

The eastern portion of Spring Lake along Scott County Road 12 is also located within the City of Prior Lake. Spring Lake, with 290 acres, but being a few minutes further out from the metro area offers similar recreational opportunities as Upper Prior Lake with a more rural character and less traffic. Spring Lake, being several feet higher in elevation, flows north, into Upper Prior Lake via a non-navigable spillway and culvert under County Road 12.


  1. "2017 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jan 3, 2019.
  2. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  3. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  4. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. "2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File". American FactFinder. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  6. "History of Prior Lake". City of Prior Lake. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
  7. "Shakopee-Mdewakanton Sioux Community". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  8. "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2012-01-25. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  9. United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  10. "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on October 19, 2016. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  11. "Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in Scott County, MN". Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  12. United States District Court, District of Minnesota, Third Division. Shakopee Mdwakanton Sioux Community v. City of Prior Lake, Minnesota. Sep 5, 1984
  13. "Mystic Lake Showroom". Mystic Lake. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  14. "Heath Voss career statistics". Retrieved 3 June 2019.
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