Elbow Lake was organized in 1873, when the county was organized, Elbow Lake was named the county seat. At this time, Elbow Lake was not yet incorporated and in fact was no more than a small cluster of residences with no commercial enterprises and was served only by existing trails rather than improved roads.
The current courthouse was built in 1905-06 of Port wing Brownstone and other materials native to Minnesota. It is the most architecturally impressive structure in Grant County and probably one the the most impressive court housed in the state of Minnesota. It has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Many of the early settlers to this area were Scandinavians. The two most important things were religion and education. As son as enough families had settled in the area, schools and religious services were quickly organized.
The district's first school house was built in 1883 on land about one mile west of Elbow Lake in Sanford township. In 1887 a school was finally built on Elbow Lake property. It had two rooms and was two stories. This building is still in use today with many upgrades.