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Washington County, Minnesota
Map of Minnesota highlighting Washington County
Location in the state of Minnesota
Map of the U.S. highlighting Minnesota
Minnesota's location in the U.S.
Founded October 27, 1849 [2]
Named for U.S. President George Washington
Seat Stillwater
Largest city Woodbury
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

423.16 sq mi (1,096 km²)
391.70 sq mi (1,014 km²)
31.46 sq mi (81 km²), 7.43%
 - (2010)
 - Density

577.7/sq mi (222.8/km²)
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Washington County is a county established in 1849 in the U.S. state of Minnesota.[1] As of 2010, the population was 238,136.[2] Its county seat is Stillwater.[3]

History[edit | edit source]

Washington County was one of the nine original counties created when the Minnesota Territory was organized in 1849. The county was officially established October 27, 1849, named after George Washington.[4]

A view of the forested St. Croix River valley, looking south towards Afton

Early development in the area was on the St. Croix River, which now forms the boundary with Wisconsin on the county's eastern side. The river not only provided a means of transportation to move people upstream, but also move logs downstream. The area was heavily forested and the early economy was dependent on the logging and lumber industries.

The first settlement and seat was named Dacotah, and was located as early as 1838 in what is now northern Stillwater, where Brown's Creek flows into the St. Croix River.[5] The creek's name is from the founder of this settlement, Joseph Renshaw Brown. However, a sawmill was built at Marine-on-St.-Croix in 1839,[6] and another was built in the current location of downtown Stillwater in 1844. The success of these soon attracted the settlers from Dacotah, and Stillwater became the county seat in 1846.

During this early period, the region was part of the Wisconsin Territory, but Wisconsin became a state in 1848. Brown and other leaders called together settlers in this now-ungoverned territory to what has become known as the "Stillwater Convention" on August 26, 1848. Held in John McKusick’s store, the settlers drafted a Memorial to Congress that a new territory be created with the name “Minnesota,” and elected Henry Hastings Sibley to deliver this citizen’s petition to the U.S. Congress. Because of this convention, Stillwater calls itself the “Birthplace of Minnesota.”

After officially becoming a territory, growth continued, with the first Sheriff of Washington County appointed by Governor Alexander Ramsey in 1849,[7] and the county's school district founded in 1850.[8]

After the forests were depleted, the economy of Washington County became primarily agricultural. With the growth of neighboring Ramsey County and St. Paul, some of Washington County developed based on tourism and recreation, as with Mahtomedi and Landfall. Late in the 20th century, the population greatly increased with the suburban expansion of St. Paul.

Geography[edit | edit source]

According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 423.16 square miles (1,096.0 km2), of which 391.70 square miles (1,014.5 km2) (or 92.57%) is land and 31.46 square miles (81.5 km2) (or 7.43%) is water.[9]

Major highways[edit | edit source]

Adjacent counties[edit | edit source]

National protected areas[edit | edit source]

Demographics[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1850 1,056
1860 6,123 479.8%
1870 11,809 92.9%
1880 19,563 65.7%
1890 25,992 32.9%
1900 27,808 7.0%
1910 26,013 −6.5%
1920 23,761 −8.7%
1930 24,753 4.2%
1940 26,430 6.8%
1950 34,544 30.7%
1960 52,432 51.8%
1970 83,003 58.3%
1980 113,571 36.8%
1990 145,896 28.5%
2000 201,130 37.9%
2010 238,136 18.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 201,130 people, 71,462 households, and 54,668 families residing in the county. The population density was 514 people per square mile (198/km²). There were 73,635 housing units at an average density of 188 per square mile (73/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 93.63% White, 1.83% Black or African American, 0.39% Native American, 2.14% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.60% from other races, and 1.37% from two or more races. 1.94% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 32.7% were of German, 11.1% Norwegian, 9.8% Irish and 7.5% Swedish ancestry according to Census 2000.

Age pyramid of county residents based on 2000 U.S. census data.

There were 71,462 households out of which 41.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.80% were married couples living together, 8.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.50% were non-families. 18.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.77 and the average family size was 3.19.

In the county the population was spread out with 29.40% under the age of 18, 6.80% from 18 to 24, 32.90% from 25 to 44, 23.20% from 45 to 64, and 7.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 98.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $66,305, and the median income for a family was $74,576 (these figures had risen to $78,067 and $90,867 respectively as of a 2007 estimate[11]). Males had a median income of $49,815 versus $33,804 for females. The per capita income for the county was $28,148. About 2.00% of families and 2.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.50% of those under age 18 and 4.10% of those age 65 or over.

Superfund sites and environmental damage[edit | edit source]

Washington County has had three locations listed as Environmental Protection Agency Superfund sites due to soil and groundwater contamination. The Baytown Township Ground Water Plume and the Oakdale Dump are currently listed, while the Washington County Landfill was cleaned up and removed from the Superfund list in 1996.

Communities[edit | edit source]

Washington County Courthouse

Cities Townships Ghost towns

† Hastings is the county seat of Dakota County, but a small part extends into Washington County.
‡ mostly in Ramsey County; a small part extends into Washington County.

Points of interest[edit | edit source]

Regional (County) Parks[edit | edit source]

  • Big Marine Park Reserve
  • Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park
  • Lake Elmo Park Reserve
  • Pine Point Park
  • Point Douglas Park
  • St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park
  • Square Lake County Park[12]

Records[edit | edit source]

Washington County records are available for research use. They include school records, Welfare Board records, County Auditor records, Probate Court files, Stillwater Municipal Court files, birth and death records, marriage, naturalization, deed records, and agency histories.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ "Minnesota Government Series, State Counties". Minnesota House of Representatives. Retrieved 2008-03-18. .
  2. ^ "2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File". American FactFinder. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ Washington County History Facts
  5. ^ History of Stillwater at the Washington County Historical Society
  6. ^ History of Marine-on-St.-Croix at the Washington County Historical Society [1]
  7. ^ Washington County Sheriff's Office History
  8. ^ Washington County Historical Society - Schools of the Past
  9. ^ "Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Counties". United States Census. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  10. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Washington County, MN-Parks and Trails

External links[edit | edit source]

Coordinates: 45°02′N 92°53′W / 45.04, -92.89

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