Aitkin ( AY-kin) is a city in Aitkin County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 2,165 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Aitkin County.
Before the establishment of City of Aitkin, a transient community of Lexington was located at the mouth of the Ripple River, at its confluence with the Mississippi River. However, maps from the 1860s erroneously depict the village of Ojibway (or Ogibeway) at the mouth of the Ripple River. (Today the town here is known as Riverton.)
Due to the importance of regional trade at Lexington, the route of the Northern Pacific Railroad was planned to pass near there. Aitkin was founded in 1870 when the Northern Pacific Railroad was extended to that point, replacing and annexing Lexington. The city and county were named for William Alexander Aitken, a partner of the American Fur Company and chief factor of the company's regional operations in the early 19th century.
The development of industries attracted people to the town. In the late 19th and early 20th century, a massive wave of immigrants, mostly from present-day Ireland, Germany, and Scandinavian countries, moved into the Aitkin area to work in the logging and riverboat industries. They were able to start working before they had learned much English.
After the Great Depression and World War II, the logging industry declined.