Washington County, Minnesota
|Founded||October 27, 1849|
|Named for||George Washington|
|• Total||423 sq mi (1,100 km2)|
|• Land||384 sq mi (990 km2)|
|• Water||38 sq mi (100 km2) 9.1%%|
|• Density||696.8/sq mi (269.0/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
|Congressional districts||2nd, 4th, 6th|
Washington County is a county in the U.S. state of Minnesota. As of the 2020 United States Census, the population was 267,568, making it the fifth-most populous county in Minnesota. Its county seat is Stillwater. The largest city in the county is Woodbury, the eighth-largest city in Minnesota and the fourth-largest Twin Cities suburb.
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 provided a waterway to move settlers upstream and to transport logs downstream. The heavily forested area fostered an early logging and lumber economy. The area's first settlers arrived at the future Afton in 1837. In 1838 settlers started Dacotah, at the north edge of present Stillwater, at the junction of Brown's Creek and the St. Croix. 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, and another was built in the current location of downtown Stillwater in 1844. The success of these soon attracted the settlers from Dacotah, and that community declined.
This area was part of Wisconsin Territory until the eastern part of that territory achieved statehood in 1848. Brown and other leaders called a meeting (the "Stillwater Convention") on August 26, 1848. The convention drafted a Memorial to Congress that a new territory be created with the name “Minnesota,” and elected Henry Hastings Sibley to deliver this citizens' petition to the U.S. Congress. Because of this convention, Stillwater calls itself the “Birthplace of Minnesota.” Congress responded by creating Minnesota Territory effective March 3, 1849.
The newly established territorial legislature created nine counties across the territory in October 1849. Washington County was one of the nine, named for George Washington, with Stillwater named as county seat. The county's first sheriff was appointed in 1849, and the county's school district began in 1850.
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.
Washington County lies on the east side of Minnesota. Its east border abuts the west border of the state of Wisconsin (across the St. Croix River). The Mississippi River flows south-southeastward west of Washington County, and forms the southwest border of the county as it flows toward its confluence with the St. Croix (at the county's southernmost point). Washington County terrain consists of low rolling hills, sloping to the south and east, with its highest point on the lower west border at 1,053' (321m) ASL. 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. It is the fourth-smallest county in Minnesota by land area and fifth-smallest by total area.
- Forest Lake Airport (25D) - south of Forest Lake
- Lake Elmo Airport (21D) - northeast of Lake Elmo
- Afton State Park
- Big Marine Park Reserve
- Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park
- Falls Creek Scientific and Natural Area
- Gateway State Trail
- Grey Cloud Dunes Scientific and Natural Area
- Hardwood Creek Wildlife Management Area
- Katherine Abbott Park
- Lake Elmo Park Reserve
- Lost Valley Scientific and Natural Area
- Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (part)
- Pine Point Regional Park
- Point Douglas Park
- Rutstrum State Wildlife Management Area
- Saint Croix Bluffs Regional Park
- Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway (part)
- Saint Croix Savanna Scientific and Natural Area
- Square Lake County Park
- Sunfish Lake Park
- William O'Brien State Park
|US Decennial Census|
The ethnic makeup of the country, according to the 2010 Census, was the following:
- 87.77% White
- 3.60% Black
- 0.49% Native American
- 5.07% Asian
- >0.01% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- 2.10% Two or more races
- 0.97% Other races
- 3.41% Hispanic or Latino (of any race)
As of the census of 2010, there were 238,136 people, 87,446 households, and 64,299 families in the county. The population density was 620/sqmi (239/km2). There were 87,446 housing units at an average density of 228/sqmi (87.9/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.
The county population contained 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.
As of the 2000 United States Census, there were 201,130 people, 71,462 households, and 54,668 families in the county. The population density was 524/sqmi (202/km2). There were 73,635 housing units at an average density of 192/sqmi (74.0/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.
The county population contained 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
Washington County voters slightly tend to vote Democratic. In 63% of national elections since 1948, the county selected the Democratic Party candidate (as of 2016).
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+12), central Washington County by Minnesota's 4th congressional district (CPVI D+14), and southern Washington County by Minnesota's 2nd congressional district (CPVI EVEN).
According to the County's 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the county are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|1||Andersen Corporation (Bayport)||3,022|
|2||Independent School District 833||2,605|
|3||Woodwinds Healtheast Campus||1,429|
|4||Washington County Government||1,290|
|6||Independent School District 834||1,143|
|8||Independent School District 831||1,074|
|10||Lakeview Memorial Hospital (Stillwater)||868|
Points of interest
- Birchwood Village
- Cottage Grove
- Forest Lake
- Hastings (part)
- Lake Elmo
- Lake St. Croix Beach
- Lakeland Shores
- Marine on St. Croix
- Oak Park Heights
- Pine Springs
- Saint Marys Point
- Saint Paul Park
- Stillwater (county seat)
- White Bear Lake (partly in Ramsey County)
Superfund sites and environmental damage
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.
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Washington County, Minnesota
- List of Superfund sites in Minnesota
- "Minnesota Place Names". Minnesota Historical Society. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
- "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Washington County, Minnesota". www.census.gov. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
- History of Stillwater at the Washington County Historical Society
- History of Marine-on-St.-Croix at the Washington County Historical Society 
- "Minnesota Government Series, State Counties". Minnesota House of Representatives. Retrieved March 18, 2008..
- Upham, Warren (1920). Minnesota Geographic Names: Their Origin and Historic Significance. Minnesota Historical Society. p. 568.
- Washington County Sheriff's Office History Archived February 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- Washington County Historical Society - Schools of the Past
- Nelson, Steven (2011). Savanna Soils of Minnesota. Minnesota: Self. pp. 61 - 64. ISBN 978-0-615-50320-2.
- Washington County MN Google Maps (accessed April 22, 2019)
- "Find an Altitude/Washington County MN" Google Maps (accessed April 22, 2019)
- "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". US Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
- AirNav: Forest Lake Airport MN (accessed April 22, 2019)
- Washington County, MN-Parks and Trails Archived February 1, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- "US Decennial Census". US Census Bureau. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
- "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
- "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". US Census Bureau. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
- "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). US Census Bureau. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
- "2020 Population and Housing State Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 12, 2021.
- Leip, David. "Atlas of US Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
- Washington County CAFR (2019)
- Washington County government’s website
- Washington County, Minnesota at Curlie
- Baytown Township Groundwater Plume EPA Factsheet
- Oakdale Dump EPA Factsheet
- Washington County Landfill EPA Factsheet