The city of Ottertail
dates only from 1903, and is not to be confused with Otter Tail City, a historical village and trading post which flourished more or less on the northeastern shore of Otter Tail Lake from about 1850 to 1860 until the Soo line was put through the county in the early part of this century. If all reports be true, the late Otter Tail City might today be the county seat if one particular land-owner had been willing to give the Northern Pacific a right of way through his farm. (read more about the History of Otter Tail County here) *
The present city of Ottertail was platted and recorded on September 3, 1903.
Is “Ottertail” One Word, or Two?
“Ottertail” is the correct spelling when referring to the city, and is in fact the ONLY government entity in the county that utilizes a single word.
All the others: Otter Tail Township, Otter Tail Lake, Otter Tail River, and of course Otter Tail County have otter and tail as separate words.
*Minnesota Geographic Names; Their Origin and Historic Significance:
by Upham, Warren, 1850-1934