Washington County, Minnesota

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Washington County, Minnesota
Stillwater Courthouse.jpg
Map of Minnesota highlighting Washington County
Location in the U.S. state of Minnesota
Map of the United States highlighting Minnesota
Minnesota's location in the U.S.
Founded October 27, 1849[1]
Named for George Washington
Seat Stillwater
Largest city Woodbury
Area
 • Total 423 sq mi (1,096 km2)
 • Land 384 sq mi (995 km2)
 • Water 38 sq mi (98 km2), 9.1%
Population (est.)
 • (2016) 253,117
 • Density 620/sq mi (239/km²)
Congressional districts 2nd, 4th, 6th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website www.co.washington.mn.us

Washington County is a county located in the U.S. state of Minnesota. As of the 2010 census, the population was 238,136,[2] making it the fifth-most populous county in Minnesota. Its county seat is Stillwater.[3] The largest city in the county is Woodbury, which had a population of 61,961 at the 2010 census. The county was established in 1849.[4]

Washington County is included in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Soils of Washington County[5]
Soils of Bellwin Foundation area

History[edit]

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

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.[6]

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.[7] 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,[8] 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,[9] and the county's school district founded in 1850.[10]

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]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 423 square miles (1,100 km2), of which 384 square miles (990 km2) is land and 38 square miles (98 km2) (9.1%) is water.[11] It is the fourth-smallest county in Minnesota by land area and fifth-smallest by total area.

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected areas[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
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%
Est. 2016 253,117 [12] 6.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]
1790-1960[14] 1900-1990[15]
1990-2000[16] 2010-2016[2]
Age pyramid of county residents based on 2000 U.S. census data

2010[edit]

The ethnic makeup of the country, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, was the following:

As of the census of 2010, there were 238,136 people, 87,446 households, and 64,299 families residing in the county. The population density was 607 people per square mile (235/km²). There were 87,446 housing units at an average density of 223 per square mile (86/km²). 39.4% were of German, 14.4% Irish, 13.0% Norwegian, and 9.9% Swedish ancestry. There were 87,446 households out of which 38.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.6% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.5% were non-families. 21.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the county, the population was spread out with 23.5% under the age of 18, 6.2% from 18 to 24, 32.90% from 25 to 44, 28.7% from 45 to 64, and 10.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 98.02 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.03 males. The median income for a household in the county was $79,735, and the median income for a family was $92,497. The per capita income for the county was $36,786. About 5.2% of the population was below the poverty line.

According to the 2007-2011 American Community Survey, of the county's population 25 years and over, 1.4% had less than 9th grade education, 2.8% held 9th to 12th grade with no diploma, 23.6% had High school graduate or equivalent, 22.2% held Some college with no degree, 27.0% had bachelor's degree, and 13.0% earned Graduate or professional degree.

2000[edit]

As of the 2000 census, 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.

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). 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.

Politics and government[edit]

Presidential Elections Results[17]
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2016 44.7% 64,428 46.5% 67,086 8.8% 12,721
2012 48.6% 69,137 49.4% 70,203 2.0% 2,793
2008 46.9% 64,334 51.3% 70,277 1.8% 2,448
2004 51.2% 65,751 47.8% 61,395 1.0% 1,303
2000 48.1% 51,502 46.4% 49,637 5.5% 5,870
1996 35.5% 31,219 51.2% 45,119 13.3% 11,719
1992 31.1% 26,568 41.9% 35,820 27.0% 23,111
1988 46.5% 30,850 52.6% 34,952 0.9% 613
1984 50.1% 29,046 49.2% 28,527 0.6% 369
1980 41.4% 22,718 46.7% 25,634 11.9% 6,550
1976 42.6% 20,716 54.5% 26,454 2.9% 1,413
1972 53.0% 19,142 44.6% 16,102 2.4% 854
1968 37.7% 10,921 56.8% 16,449 5.5% 1,584
1964 32.8% 8,850 67.0% 18,108 0.2% 64
1960 48.4% 11,202 51.3% 11,870 0.3% 61
1956 56.1% 9,562 43.8% 7,462 0.2% 32
1952 54.6% 9,408 45.1% 7,768 0.4% 64
1948 40.7% 5,686 57.5% 8,039 1.8% 245
1944 51.5% 6,014 47.9% 5,599 0.6% 66
1940 51.4% 6,710 48.2% 6,288 0.4% 54
1936 33.0% 3,863 57.8% 6,768 9.2% 1,079
1932 37.5% 3,996 60.2% 6,413 2.3% 247
1928 59.1% 6,113 40.2% 4,158 0.8% 80
1924 52.4% 4,482 8.2% 699 39.4% 3,372
1920 74.8% 5,852 19.9% 1,558 5.2% 409
1916 53.6% 2,167 39.8% 1,610 6.7% 270
1912 13.8% 581 30.5% 1,289 55.7% 2,353
1908 68.5% 2,727 28.1% 1,120 3.4% 134
1904 79.9% 2,913 17.9% 652 2.2% 79
1900 68.5% 2,984 29.4% 1,279 2.2% 94
1896 70.5% 3,995 27.5% 1,558 2.0% 113
1892 53.3% 2,451 37.7% 1,733 9.0% 414

Like all counties in Minnesota, Washington is governed by an elected and nonpartisan board of commissioners. Each commissioner represents a district of approximately equal population.


Washington County is divided among three congressional districts. Northern Washington County is represented by Minnesota's 6th congressional district (CPVI R+10), central Washington County by Minnesota's 4th congressional district (CPVI D+11), and southern Washington County by Minnesota's 2nd congressional district (CPVI R+2).

Economy[edit]

Largest employers[edit]

According to the County's 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[18] the top employers in the county are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Andersen Corporation (Bayport) 2,600
2 Independent School District 833 2,500
3 Independent School District 831 1,200
4 Washington County Government 1,138
5 Independent School District 834 1,050
6 Woodwinds Health Campus 835
7 The Hartford 800
8 Lakeview Memorial Hospital (Stillwater) 727
9 3M Chemolite (Cottage Grove) 700
10 MN State Prison (Stillwater) 544

Points of interest[edit]

Regional (county) parks[edit]

  • 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[19]

Communities[edit]

Cities[edit]

Townships[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Ghost towns[edit]

Superfund sites and environmental damage[edit]

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.

Records[edit]

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]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Minnesota Place Names". Minnesota Historical Society. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Minnesota Government Series, State Counties". Minnesota House of Representatives. Retrieved March 18, 2008. .
  5. ^ Nelson, Steven (2011). Savanna Soils of Minnesota. Minnesota: Self. pp. 61 - 64. ISBN 978-0-615-50320-2.
  6. ^ Upham, Warren (1920). Minnesota Geographic Names: Their Origin and Historic Significance. Minnesota Historical Society. p. 568. 
  7. ^ History of Stillwater at the Washington County Historical Society
  8. ^ History of Marine-on-St.-Croix at the Washington County Historical Society [1]
  9. ^ Washington County Sheriff's Office History Archived February 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Washington County Historical Society - Schools of the Past
  11. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  13. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  17. ^ http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS
  18. ^ [2]
  19. ^ Washington County, MN-Parks and Trails Archived February 1, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]

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