Red Wing, Minnesota

Coordinates: 44°34′N 92°32′W / 44.567°N 92.533°W / 44.567; -92.533
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Red Wing
Red Wing Bridge and Dowtown Red Wing
Red Wing Bridge and Dowtown Red Wing
Flag of Red Wing
"Come for a visit, stay for a lifetime"[1]
Location of the city of Red Wing within Goodhue County in the state of Minnesota
Location of the city of Red Wing
within Goodhue County
in the state of Minnesota
Coordinates: 44°34′N 92°32′W / 44.567°N 92.533°W / 44.567; -92.533
CountryUnited States
Named forChief Red Wing
 • TypeMayor – Council
 • MayorMike Wilson[2]
 • Total41.41 sq mi (107.26 km2)
 • Land34.83 sq mi (90.20 km2)
 • Water6.59 sq mi (17.06 km2)
Elevation735 ft (224 m)
 • Total16,547
 • Density475.12/sq mi (183.45/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP Code
Area code651
FIPS code27-53620
GNIS ID0649885[4]

Red Wing is a city and the county seat of Goodhue County, Minnesota, United States, along the upper Mississippi River. The population was 16,547 at the 2020 census.[5][6][7]

This city is named for early 19th-century Dakota Sioux chief Red Wing.[7][8] The federal government established a Mdewakanton Sioux Indian reservation—now Prairie Island Indian Community—in 1889 along the Mississippi River to free up land for new settlers. The city of Red Wing developed around it.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation placed Red Wing on its 2008 distinctive destinations list because of its "impressive architecture and enviable natural environment."[9]


Main Street, Red Wing, 1860

In the early 1850s, settlers from Mississippi River steamboats came to Red Wing to farm in Goodhue County. They encroached on traditional territory of the Mdewakanton Sioux.

The settlers cleared the land for wheat, the annual crop of which could pay the cost of the land. Before railroads were constructed across the territory of Goodhue County, it produced more wheat than any other county in the country.[citation needed] In 1873, Red Wing led the country in wheat sold by farmers.[10] The warehouses in the port of Red Wing could store and export more than a million bushels.[10]

Once the railroads connected southern Minnesota with Minneapolis and Saint Anthony, where the largest flour mills were built, the port at Red Wing lost prominence.[10]

The Aurora Ski Club in Red Wing, founded on February 8, 1887, was one of the first ski clubs in North America, reflecting the skills of Scandinavian immigrants in the area.[11] In the 1880s, Aurora club members introduced what became known as "Red Wing Style" ski techniques, patterned after the Telemark skiing form.[12] The term "Red Wing style" remained in use in the U.S. well into the 20th century.[citation needed] In 1887, Norwegian immigrant Mikkjel Hemmestveit set the first North American ski jumping record, 37 feet, at the Aurora Ski Club's McSorley Hill.[13][14]

In 1889, the federal government established a Mdewakanton Sioux Indian reservation along the Mississippi River to free up land for settlers. It is now within the city of Red Wing, and is known as the Prairie Island Indian Community.[citation needed]

Red Wing's first settlers built small mills, factories, and workshops like those they were familiar with in New England and the upper Midwest, whence many had come.[10] Numerous immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Norway and Sweden settled in this area and were also skilled craftsmen. Some early industries were tanning and shoe-making, while other businesses manufactured farm equipment, bricks, barrels, boats, furniture, pottery, and clothing buttons. Consumables included beer and lumber. Service industries including stone-cutting, hospitality, and retailing.[10] The St. James Hotel remains a working token of the earlier time.[10]

Red Wing was once home to Hamline University, founded in 1854 as Minnesota's first institution of higher education. It closed in 1869 because of low enrollment due to diversion of students to the American Civil War. Chartered in St. Paul in 1871, it reopened there in 1880.

Red Wing Seminary was a Lutheran Church seminary, founded in 1879. It was the educational center for Hauge's Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Synod in America, commonly known as the Hauge Synod. Red Wing Seminary operated until 1917.[15]

Red Wing also was the home of Minnesota Elementarskola, a Swedish elementary school that was the predecessor to Gustavus Adolphus College, a private liberal arts college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). The school was founded in Red Wing in 1862 by Eric Norelius, moved to East Union in 1863, and then was built in St. Peter in 1873–76.

The Red Wing Pottery and stoneware industry began in 1861, when county potter John Paul discovered the large, glacially deposited clay pit beds in the northwest of the city, close to Hay Creek. The first commercial pottery company, Red Wing Stoneware, was founded in 1877.[16] It used clay from the area of the Hay Creek headwaters, close to Goodhue, near a hamlet named Claybank. A railroad branch line was built to carry clay to Red Wing for this industry. The factory buildings remain, but only traces of the railroad, abandoned in 1937, are left.[17]

20th century to present[edit]

The Minnesota Correctional Facility – Red Wing is housed in the former Minnesota State Training School, built in 1889. Warren B. Dunnell designed the original Romanesque building. He was the architect of a number of Minnesota's public buildings. The institution was the subject of "Walls of Red Wing", a folk song by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.

In the last half of the 20th century, the United States Army Corps of Engineers built Lock and Dam No. 3 and deepened the channel on the Mississippi River to improve navigation in this area. Such projects have revitalized Mississippi River traffic for shipping grain and coal. The port of Red Wing has gained business as a result.[10]

In 1973, the Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant opened along the river. The federal government authorized the project in consultation with the Minnesota state government. Xcel Energy owns and operates the facility.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 41.19 square miles (106.68 km2), of which 34.60 square miles (89.61 km2) is land and 6.59 square miles (17.07 km2) is water.[18] The city is at the northern edge of the Driftless Area of karst topography.


Red Wing has several neighborhoods or other places annexed by the city. These include:


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[19]


As of the 2010 Census, there were 16,459 people, 7,017 households, and 4,328 families residing in the city. The population density was 475.7 inhabitants per square mile (183.7/km2). There were 7,539 housing units at an average density of 217.9 per square mile (84.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.5% White, 1.9% African American, 2.2% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 1.2% from other races, and 2.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.7% of the population.

There were 7,017 households, of which 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.6% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 38.3% were non-families. 32.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.84.

The median age in the city was 41.8 years. 22.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.9% were from 25 to 44; 27.7% were from 45 to 64; and 18.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.6% male and 51.4% female.


At the 2000 Census, there were 16,116 people, 6,562 households, and 4,166 families in the city. The population density was 455.3 per square mile (175.8 km2). There were 6,867 housing units at an average density of 194.0 per square mile (74.9/km2). The ethnical makeup was 94.33% White, 1.32% African American, 2.22% Native American, 0.74% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.53% from other ethnicities, and 0.82% from two or more ethnicities. Hispanic or Latino of any ethnicity were 1.27% of the population.

There were 6,562 households, of which 30.4% had children under 18 with them, 51.2% were married couples living together, 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.5% were non-families. 30.7% of all households were of individuals and 13.3% had someone living alone 65 or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family 2.94.

In the city, the population was 24.6% under 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 27.5% from 25 to 44, 23.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.5% 65 or older. The median was 39. For every 100 females, there were 93.5 males. For every 100 females 18 and over, there were 90.6 males.

The median income for a household was $43,674, and the median for a family was $54,641. Males had a median of $36,576 versus $25,477 for females. The per capita income was $21,678. About 3.9% of families and 6.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.9% of those under age 18 and 8.0% of those 65 or over.


Manufacturers in Red Wing include Red Wing Shoes, Riedell Skates, and Red Wing Stoneware.[citation needed]

Arts and culture[edit]


  • Big Turn Music Fest - February
  • Prairie Island Indian Community Wacipi (Pow Wow) - July
  • Rolling River Music Festival – July
  • River City Days – 1st weekend in August
  • Hispanic Heritage Festival – 2nd weekend in September
  • MN Children's Book Festival - 3rd weekend in September
  • Fall Festival of the Arts – 2nd weekend in October
  • Holiday Stroll - Friday after Thanksgiving


Red Wing Public Library is a member of Southeastern Libraries Cooperating.[20]

Parks and recreation[edit]

The Cannon Valley Trail's eastern terminus is in Red Wing. The nearby Prairie Island Indian Reservation operates Treasure Island Resort and Casino.

He Mni Can-Barn Bluff is a natural feature for hiking and sport climbing.[21]


Red Wing City Hall, listed on the National Register of Historic Places

The mayor is Mike Wilson.[22] His term ends in January 2025.



The Red Wing Republican Eagle is published two days per week.


KCUE, an AM classic country station, and KWNG, an FM classic hits station, are both licensed to Red Wing.[citation needed]



Red Wing is connected to Wisconsin by Red Wing Bridge (officially named the Eisenhower Bridge); it carries U.S. Route 63 over the Mississippi River and its backwaters. U.S. Routes 61 and 63 and Minnesota State Highways 19 and 58 are the main intercity highways. Minnesota State Highway 292 is also in the city.

Red Wing Regional Airport is across the Mississippi River in Pierce County, Wisconsin, near Wisconsin Highway 35 .

Red Wing's Amtrak station is served by Amtrak's Empire Builder daily in each direction between Chicago to the east, and Seattle and Portland on the west.

Notable people[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

Red Wing has three sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "City of Red Wing Minnesota". City of Red Wing Minnesota. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  2. ^ "Office of the Mayor". Archived from the original on July 22, 2015. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  3. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 24, 2022.
  4. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Red Wing, Minnesota
  5. ^ "2020 Decennial Census: Red Wing city, Minnesota". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved September 29, 2022.
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Profile for Red Wing, Minnesota, MN". ePodunk. Archived from the original on May 14, 2019. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  8. ^ O'Connor, Mark (July 15, 2011). "Red Wing". The O'Connor Method – A New American School of String Playing. II. New American School of String Playing. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  9. ^ "Red Wing, Minnesota". Dozen Distinctive Destinations 2008. National Trust for Historic Preservation. 2008. Retrieved March 26, 2008.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Gilman, Rhonda R. (1989). The Story of Minnesota's Past. Saint Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Society Press. pp. 12–21. ISBN 0-87351-267-7.
  11. ^ Johnson, Frederick L. (2003) Sky Crashers: A History of the Aurora Ski Club ISBN 9780961719753
  12. ^ Lund, Morten (2009) The Big Surge Skiing Heritage vol 21 #1:8
  13. ^ "Mikkel Hemmestvedt (Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project)". Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  14. ^ "The Aurora Ski Club. Red Wing, Minnesota 1886–1951 (". February 2, 2007. Archived from the original on March 11, 2012. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  15. ^ Red Wing Seminary; fifty years of service. (Published on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary, September 15 to 17, 1929. Editor-in-chief, Arthur Rholl. 1930)
  16. ^ ""Timeline of Pottery production in Red Wing, MN"" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on February 22, 2014.
  17. ^ Chicago Great Western Railway Co. Safety News, June 30, 1968
  18. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on January 25, 2012. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
  19. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  20. ^ "Southeastern Libraries Cooperating (SELCO)". Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  21. ^ "Climbing in Minnesota".
  22. ^ "Office of the Mayor - City of Red Wing Minnesota". Archived from the original on December 29, 2010.

Further reading[edit]

  • Sky Crashers: A History of the Aurora Ski Club (Goodhue County Historical Society: 2004)
  • Red Wing Reflections of a River Town (Red Wing Republican Eagle: 2007)

External links[edit]