Main Births etc
—  City  —
Austin, Minnesota
Mower County Courthouse in Austin
Nickname(s): Spam Town USA
Location of the city of Austin
within Mower County
in the state of Minnesota
Coordinates: 43°39′59.76″N 92°58′29.50″W / 43.6666, -92.974861Coordinates: 43°39′59.76″N 92°58′29.50″W / 43.6666, -92.974861
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Mower
Established 1853
Incorporated 1856
 • Mayor Tom Stiehm
 • Total 11.90 sq mi (30.82 km2)
 • Land 11.79 sq mi (30.54 km2)
 • Water 0.11 sq mi (0.28 km2)
Elevation 1,184 ft (360 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 24,718
 • Estimate (2013)[3] 24,763
 • Density 2,096.5/sq mi (809.5/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 55912
Area code(s) 507
FIPS code 27-02908[4]
GNIS feature ID 0639531[5]
Website City of Austin

Interstate Hwy. 90 Business Loop (Oakland Avenue) runs through the center of Austin.

Hormel Spam Museum.

Austin is a city in Mower County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 24,718 at the 2010 census.[6] It is the county seat of Mower County.[7] The southern part of the city is in Austin Township while the northern part is in Lansing Township; the city is politically independent of both. Austin is located at the intersection of Interstate Highway 90 and U.S. Highway 218 in the southeastern part of the state.

The town was originally settled along the Cedar River and it has two man-made lakes called East Side Lake and Mill pond. The town was named for Austin R. Nichols, the first settler in the area.

Hormel Foods Corporation is the largest employer in Austin, where its factory makes most of North America's Spam tinned meat. The Austin Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors an annual Independence Day Freedom Fest. Austin is sometimes called "Spam Town USA", as it is home to Hormel's headquarters and is home to the Spam Museum. Austin is also home to the Austin Bruins which are a junior hockey team in the NAHL.


The city was named for Austin Nichols, an early settler,[8] who arrived in 1853. At that time there were "about twenty families in the area."[9] More settlers began to arrive by wagon train in 1855, and by 1856, enough people were present to organize a county, Mower County.[9] "The first newspaper, the Mower County Mirror, was started in 1858."[9]

In the 1930s, Austin Acres was built with funding from the Subsistence Homesteads Division of the Department of the Interior.[10]

In 2011, an Austin Police Department dog named Ghost took first place at the USPCA Police Dog Field Trials, the largest competition of police dogs in the United States.[11]

Geography and climate[]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.90 square miles (30.82 km2), of which 11.79 square miles (30.54 km2) is land and 0.11 square miles (0.28 km2) is water.[1] Its elevation is approximately 1,200 ft (370 m).

Major tornadoes[]

August 20, 1928[]

F-2 size. Touchdown on Winona Street (1st Ave.) damage path ran from the southern edge of Austin High School to the Milwaukee Road railyards on the city's east side. Buildings ruined or damaged: St. Olaf Lutheran church, Carnegie Library, main street, spire on the old courthouse, Grand Theatre, (replaced in 1929 with the Publix Theatre which is now called the Paramount Theatre), Austin Utilities, Lincoln school, damage to boxcars at Milwaukee yards before it dissipated. Austin residents noticed debris raining out of the sky, such as straw and laundry.

August 1961[]

F-2 Touchdown in backyard at 808 18th St. S.W. (Sucha residence) Gained strength as F-3, when it hit block at 17th St. S.W. and blew up a garage. Lifted and touched down in fairgrounds and hit the grandstand roof, tearing off parts and damaging beams.

June 27, 1998[]

Disputed tornado or straight line winds took down massive amounts of branches and trees, uprooting smaller trees and knocking large branches across streets. In the northwest quarter of the city, the storm had the effect of blocking several side streets, 8th Ave Northwest near Sumner Elementary School, and 14th St. Northwest between I-90 and 8th Ave. The event caused disruption in Sunday church services the next morning as many congregations organized clean up activities instead of regularly scheduled events

Summer 1984[]

Tornado destroyed Echo Lanes Bowling Alley as it swept through the S.E. part of Austin. Neighboring Bo-Dee Campers had suffered considerable damage, as well. The tornado also destroyed Schmidt TV and Schmidt Family residence. Three members of the Schmidt family, dad Roger, Daughters Allison (10) and Suzanne (7) were inside home and survived.

May 1, 2001[]

Touchdown in Glenville, with twister gaining strength before it turned into a F-3 headed for Austin. Dissipated before hitting town. Notable damage path in Glenville, and damage in Austin.

June 17, 2009[]

An EF2 tornado touched down outside of Austin and moved across the northwest and northern parts of the city, gradually weakening as it moved east. The worst damage in Austin was about 3 miles north of downtown. There were a few minor injuries.[12]

Major floods[]


Red Cedar River rose and flooded much of Austin, Lansing, and surrounding areas. Many dollars worth of damage was the result. Heavy rains that were preceded by a drought were to blame.

September 2004[]

A huge rainstorm that dropped 12 inches of rain north of Austin caused a major flood throughout Austin and surrounding areas. The flood was responsible for two fatalities. Many businesses were flooded. Citizens of Austin worked together to fix up the city and pass a 0.5% sales tax that was used to build flood protection (dikes) along the Cedar River.

September 2010[]

Major flooding occurred after a few days of heavy rain.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 200
1870 2,039 919.5%
1880 2,305 13.0%
1890 3,901 69.2%
1900 5,474 40.3%
1910 6,960 27.1%
1920 10,118 45.4%
1930 12,276 21.3%
1940 18,307 49.1%
1950 23,100 26.2%
1960 27,908 20.8%
1970 25,074 −10.2%
1980 23,020 −8.2%
1990 21,907 −4.8%
2000 23,314 6.4%
2010 24,718 6.0%
Est. 2013 24,763 6.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]
2013 Estimate[3]

2010 census[]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 24,718 people, 10,131 households, and 6,114 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,096.5 inhabitants per square mile (809.5 /km2). There were 10,870 housing units at an average density of 922.0 per square mile (356.0 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.8% White, 3.0% African American, 0.3% Native American, 2.4% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 4.8% from other races, and 2.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.4% of the population.

There were 10,131 households of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.9% were married couples living together, 11.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 39.7% were non-families. 33.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 3.05.

The median age in the city was 37 years. 25.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.3% were from 25 to 44; 23.5% were from 45 to 64; and 17.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.2% male and 50.8% female.

2000 census[]

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 23,314 people, 9,897 households, and 6,076 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,168.2 people per square mile (837.4/km²). There were 10,261 housing units at an average density of 954.3 per square mile (368.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.6% White, 0.81% African American, 0.18% Native American, 2.22% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 3.09% from other races, and 1.09% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race was 6.12% of the population.

There were 9,897 households, out of which 27.2% had children under the age of 18, 48.6% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.6% were non-families. 33.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29; the average family size was 2.90.

In the city the population was spread out, with 23.3% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 25.1% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 22.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 92.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,750, and the median income for a family was $42,691. Males had a median income of $31,787 versus $23,158 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,651. About 7.5% of families and 10.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.0% of those under age 18 and 5.1% of those age 65 or over.


With Hormel's corporate headquarters and main production facility located in Austin, food processing plays a dominant role in the city's economy. Hormel and Quality Pork Processors, a contract food processing firm serving Hormel, are by far the largest private employers in Austin.[14]

The government, education, hospitality, and retail sectors comprise much of the remainder of Austin's employment base.

Austin area businesses and community leaders continue to support the application to participate as a test community in the Google Fiber project, started in 2010.[15]

Top employers[]

According to Austin's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[16] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Hormel Foods 4,100
2 Quality Pork Processors 1,500
3 Mayo Clinic Health System 900
4 Austin Public Schools 701
5 Bellisio Foods 500
6 Hy-Vee 350
7 Cedar Valley Services 300
8 Riverland Community College 280
9 Mower County 265
10 St. Mark's Lutheran Home 209


  • Tom Stiehm - Mayor
  • City Council
    • Janet Anderson - Council Member-At-Large
    • Michael Jordal - Council Member, First Ward
    • Jeffrey Austin - Council Member, First Ward
    • Roger Boughton - Council Member Second Ward
    • Steve King - Council Member Second Ward
    • Jeremy Carolan - Council Member Third Ward
    • Judy Enright - Council Member Third Ward

Austin is located in Minnesota's 1st congressional district, represented by Mankato educator Tim Walz, a Democrat.


  • Colleges
    • Riverland Community College
  • High Schools
    • Austin High School
    • Pacelli High School (Grades 9-12)
  • Middle Schools (Junior High)
    • Ellis Middle School [Grades 7-8]
    • I.J Holton [Grades 5-6]
    • Pacelli Middle School (Grades 6-8)
  • Elementary Schools
    • Pacelli Elementary School (Grades PreK-5)
    • Banfield Elementary School (Grades 1-4)
    • Neveln Elementary School (Grades 1-4)
    • Shaw Elementary School (last year of operation: 1992)
    • Southgate Elementary School (Grades 1-4)
    • Sumner Elementary School (Grades 1-4)
    • Woodson School (Kindergarten only)


Television Stations in Austin, KAAL channel 6 (ABC), and KSMQ channel 15 (PBS)

Other stations in the area include KIMT - Channel 3 (CBS) out of Mason City, KTTC channel 10 (NBC) Rochester and KXLT-TV channel 47 (Fox) Rochester

Sports teams[]

The Austin Bruins are a North American Hockey League team that began play during the 2010-11 season. Austin previously was represented in Junior hockey by the Austin Mavericks, a team that first participated in the Midwest Junior Hockey League from 1974–1977 and following a league merger competed in the United States Hockey League from 1977-1985.

Notable people[]

  • John Maus, musician[17][18]
  • Shannon Frid-Rubin, violinist in Cloud Cult[19]
  • Josh Braaten, actor
  • Trace Bundy, instrumental acoustic guitar player
  • Neal Doughty, keyboardist and songwriter for REO Speedwagon
  • Richard Eberhart, United States Poet Laureate
  • Amanda Hocking, writer of paranormal romance young-adult fiction[20]
  • Geordie Hormel, musician, composer, founder/owner of The Village Recorder music studio in Los Angeles
  • James C. Hormel, United States Ambassador to Luxembourg, philanthropist, author
  • Jay Catherwood Hormel, president of Hormel Foods 1929-1954; son of founder George A. Hormel
  • Lee Janzen, professional golfer
  • Tom Lehman, professional golfer
  • John Madden, retired Oakland Raiders head coach, NFL commentator, and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame[21]
  • Bob Motzko, St. Cloud State University head men's ice hockey coach
  • Tim O'Brien, novelist
  • Charlie Parr, musician
  • Jeanne Poppe, Minnesota legislator and current member of the Minnesota House of Representatives[22]
  • Michael Wuertz, former Major League Baseball Pitcher with the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics
  • Rick Zombo, retired defenseman for 12 seasons in the National Hockey League
  • Martin Zellar, musician and songwriter


  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  3. ^ a b "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-11-02. 
  4. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ "2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File". American FactFinder. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  8. ^ "Profile for Austin, Minnesota". ePodunk. Retrieved 2010-05-29. 
  9. ^ a b c "City of Austin City Council, History". Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  10. ^ "A return to Austin Acres". The Austin Daily Herald (Austin, MN). 2011-05-14. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  11. ^ "National 2011 USPCA Police Dog Field Trials". United States Police Canine Association. 
  12. ^ Austin, MN Tornado Of June 17 2009. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  13. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved November 2, 2014. 
  14. ^ Major Employers & Workforce
  15. ^ Austin High Rallies for Google Fiber
  16. ^ "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report". Retrieved 2013-02-21. 
  17. ^ John Maus: The Sound of the North. Mpls.Tv (2011-06-23). Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  18. ^
  19. ^ Shannon Frid, Cloud Cult. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  20. ^ Vezner, Tad (April 5, 2011). "Young Austin, Minn., author finds fame — and fortune — publishing her work online". St. Paul Pioneer Press. Retrieved 5 April 2011. 
  21. ^ "John Madden". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Rep. Jeanne Poppe". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved October 8, 2012. 

Further reading[]

  • Mill on the Willow: A History of Mower County, Minnesota by various authors. Library of Congress No. 84-062356

External links[]

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