Detroit Lakes is a city in the U.S. state of Minnesota and the county seat of Becker County. Its unofficial population during summer months is much higher, estimated by citizens to peak at 13,000 midsummer, due to seasonal residents and tourists. The city of Detroit Lakes was founded by Colonel George Johnston in 1871. The city grew quickly with the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad. In 1877, an election finally decided that Detroit Lakes, then known as Detroit, was to become the county seat.