Main Births etc
Owatonna, Minnesota
—  City  —
Downtown Owatonna
Location of the city of Owatonna
within Steele County
in the state of Minnesota
Coordinates: 44°5′14″N 93°13′28″W / 44.08722, -93.22444
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Steele
 • Total 14.62 sq mi (37.87 km2)
 • Land 14.53 sq mi (37.63 km2)
 • Water 0.09 sq mi (0.23 km2)
Elevation 1,152 ft (351 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 25,599
 • Estimate (2013)[3] 25,546
 • Density 1,761.8/sq mi (680.2/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 55060
Area code(s) 507
FIPS code 27-49300
GNIS feature ID 0649095[4]
Website City of Owatonna

Owatonna is a city in Steele County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 25,599 at the 2010 census.[5] It is the county seat of Steele County. Owatonna is home to the Steele County Fairgrounds, which hosts the Steele County Free Fair in August.

Interstate 35 and U.S. Highways 14, and 218 are three of the main routes in the city.


Mineral Springs Park, Owatonna, MN

Owatonna was first settled in 1853 around the Straight River. The community was named after the Straight River,[6] which in the Dakota language is Wakpá Owóthaŋna. The earliest the Owatonna area was settled was in 1854 and platted in September 1855, but it was incorporated as a town August 9, 1858, then as a city on February 23, 1865.[6]

The name Owatonna is from a legend; Chief Wabena heard of the curing waters called minnewaucan. His daughter, Princess Owatonna, was very frail so he moved his tribe to the site of the natural springs on the banks of Maple Creek. Princess Owatonna drank from the springs daily and recovered her health. Her kindly spirit hovers near the bubbling waters and beckons weary travelers to pause in the beautiful valley and drink of the magic waters. It is actually true that for hundreds of years before the arrival of the first white settlers, Native Americans camped on the banks of a river they called "Ouitunya," which means "straight" and is today the name of the major river in Steele County. Mineral Springs Park is now on this site and contains a statue of the Princess Owatonna and visitors can see the springs and drink the water that saved Princess Owatonna. [4]

In 1856, Josef Karel Kaplan emigrated from a village southwest of Prague Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) and selected a quarter section (160 acres (65 ha)) of land near the town of Owatonna. Kaplan described Owatonna as having just 50 small homes, but predicted 100 within a year, along with a railroad. With just four stores and a pharmacy, Owatonna quickly prospered and grew to 1500 inhabitants in just 5 years. Kaplan wrote about the Owatonna area in letters donated to the Minnesota Historical Society.[7] He described often seeing Indians - people with "tough constitutions...brown skin and good dispositions", explaining: "When you read about battles between whites and Indians, it is the whites who are to blame." In 1866, Kaplan helped organize the Catholic Cemetery, and a year later, the National Bohemian Cemetery of Owatonna.

Kaplan's Woods is part of the land originally owned by Josef Kaplan, and later Victor and Anna Kaplan. The State of Minnesota created Kaplan's Wood State Park, which was later transferred to the City of Owatonna.[8] The Kaplan's Woods Parkway contains over 6 miles (10 km) of hiking and cross country skiing trails, and nearly 2 miles (3 km) of hard—surfaced, handicapped—accessible trail. The parkway includes Lake Kohlmier, a 35-acre (14.2 ha) lake. Maps of the parkway are available at the Park and Recreation office.[9]

The Minnesota State School for Dependent and Neglected Children was built in 1886. The school took in orphans from around the state and taught them "the value of drill, discipline, and labor". The children who died in the institution were interred in the graveyard behind the school. In 1945, the orphanage was closed and the facility began to serve handicapped children. In 1974, the City purchased the compound for its office space. Renamed "West Hills", it continues to serve as the city's administration complex and home to many nonprofit civic organizations including a senior activity center, the Owatonna Arts Center, two nonprofit day care centers, a chemical dependency halfway house, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters, among others.

In 1995, the film Angus (1995), whose cast included Ariana Richards and James Van Der Beek, was filmed on location in Owatonna, mostly at Owatonna Senior High School.[10]

In July 2008, a Raytheon Hawker 800 corporate jet crashed near Owatonna, resulting in eight deaths.[11]


The Owatonna Power Plant is a city landmark.

Owatonna is an economic center of Southern Minnesota, with diverse industries. Federated Insurance is the largest employer with 1521 employees, followed by an expanding Viracon which has 1434 employees.[12] Both have their headquarters in Owatonna. Other large employers in the community are Bosch, Jostens, Cabela's, Truth Hardware, ISD 761, Wenger Corporation, Owatonna Clinic - Mayo Health System, and Owatonna Hospital - Allina Hospitals & Clinics.


Owatonna is governed by a Mayor and City Council. As of December 2009, its mayor was Thomas Kuntz.[13][14]

The city is located in Minnesota's 26th District, represented by Mike Parry, Republican. District 26 includes portions of Rice, Steele, and Waseca counties in the southeastern part of the state. Owatonna also lies in House District 26A, represented by State Representative Kory Kath, a Democrat. He was first elected to that office in 2008, and was reelected to a second term in 2010.[15]

Owatonna is located in Minnesota's 1st congressional district, represented by Mankato educator Tim Walz, a Democrat.[16]


Public schools[]

Owatonna Public Schools

Former Schools[]

  • 1st Owatonna High School 1868-1882
  • 2nd Owatonna High School 1883-1921
  • "Old" Lincoln Elementary 1885-1951
  • "Old" McKinley Elementary 1901-1951
  • Marian High School 1959-1975
  • Roosevelt Elementary 1919-1980
  • Jefferson Elementary 1900-1970

Elementary schools[]

Middle school[]

Willow Creek Middle School *[5], Grade 6

Junior high school[]

Owatonna Junior High School *[6], Grades 7&8

High school[]

Owatonna Senior High School *[7], Grades 9-12

Private schools[]

Higher education[]

  • Riverland Community College

Owatonna Art Education Project[]

In Owatonna was the Owatonna Art Education Project.

Sites of interest[]

National Farmers Bank[]

Owatonna's classic bank

In the middle of Owatonna's downtown is the National Farmer's Bank, widely recognized as one of the premier examples of the Prairie School of architecture in America. Designed by Louis Sullivan, the building was finished in 1908 and features gold leaf arches, stained-glass windows, and nouveau baroque art designs, all still in pristine condition. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and currently functions as a branch of Wells Fargo Bank.

Kaplan's Woods[]

Land originally owned by Josef Kaplan, was given to his son, Victor who then built a home for his bride, Anna Kaplan near what is now Cedar Avenue. The woods were an important part of the Kaplan's life and well known in the area. The State of Minnesota created Kaplan's Wood State Park, which was later transferred to the City of Owatonna. Now the Kaplan's Woods Parkway contains over 6 miles of hiking and cross country skiing trails, and nearly two miles of hard—surfaced, handicapped—accessible trail. There are claims that the woods are haunted. The parkway includes Lake Kohlmier, a 35 acre lake. Maps of the parkway are available at the Park and Recreation office.

State School Museum[]

The State School Museum [8] is located at West Hills on the grounds of the former state orphanage, the Minnesota State School for Dependent and Neglected Children.

Kaplan Apartments[]

Polychrome brick apartment house built in 1912 for Godfrey J. Kaplan, founder of Owatonna Tool Company. Located at 115 W. Rose St., the building is on the National Historic Register. This building was razed in recent years.

Sports and recreation[]

Junior hockey[]

The Owatonna Express is a junior hockey team who play at Four Seasons Center and are a member of the North American Hockey League. Although having a similar name and logo, this team is unrelated to the former Southern Minnesota Express, that relocated to Michigan to become the Motor City Machine. The team is named the Owatonna Express instead of the Southern Minnesota Express because, "With the new team in Albert Lea joining the North American Hockey League this season, and others in the Twin Cities and Rochester possibly coming into the fray in the next few years, the Express are no longer the sole owners of southern Minnesota."[17] The Express begin play in the 2008-2009 season.[18]

The Owatonna Express completed their final season in early March 2011.

Riversprings Water Park[]

Riversprings is a public water park that opened the summer of 2009. It has many features and amenities including: a tube slide, a body slide, a lazy river, an activity pool, a zero depth entry pool, a climbing wall, a lily pad walk, a sand volleyball court, a concessions stand, and locker rooms. Riversprings has many programs, some of which are: lap swim/water walking, tiny tot time, water aerobics, and swimming lessons. The main operator of the pool, Eric Anderson, keeps the public updated with hours and weather announcements along with specials through the Riversprings Facebook page[19] and through the City of Owatonna page.[20]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.62 square miles (37.87 km2); 14.53 square miles (37.63 km2) is land and 0.09 square miles (0.23 km2) is water.[1] The oldest part of the city (including the downtown area) is located on a low lying area on the eastern bank of the Straight River, extending towards the south from Maple Creek. The city has grown in all directions, and now lies on both sides of the river, as well as above the ridge north of Maple Creek. Significant growth in recent years has occurred to the northeast, where homes have been built along the ravine of Maple Creek as well as alongside Brooktree Golf Course, to the north, and to the southeast. Geographical landmarks of note include Kaplan's Woods, a hardwood nature preserve on the southern border of the city, Cinder Hill, a steep 60 foot hill on Linn Avenue overlooking downtown that is used by local athletes for training, the Straight River dam, originally used to power a mill and now reconstructed to include a fish ladder, and the Forest Hill Cemetery, an old wooded cemetery on the ridge to the north of Maple Creek that marks the boundary between the oldest parts of the city and more recent developments.

Record rainfall events from Wednesday, September 22, 2010 to Friday, September 24, 2010 caused record flooding of the Straight River and Maple Creek in and near Owatonna, with developments in the floodplains of both streams being completely inundated.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 609
1870 2,070 239.9%
1880 3,161 52.7%
1890 3,849 21.8%
1900 5,561 44.5%
1910 5,658 1.7%
1920 7,252 28.2%
1930 7,654 5.5%
1940 8,694 13.6%
1950 10,191 17.2%
1960 13,409 31.6%
1970 15,341 14.4%
1980 18,632 21.5%
1990 19,386 4.0%
2000 22,434 15.7%
2010 25,599 14.1%
Est. 2013 25,546 13.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[21]
2013 Estimate[3]

2010 census[]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 25,599 people, 10,068 households, and 6,737 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,761.8 inhabitants per square mile (680.2 /km2). There were 10,724 housing units at an average density of 738.1 per square mile (285.0 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.2% White, 3.8% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 2.2% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.3% of the population.

There were 10,068 households of which 34.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.9% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 33.1% were non-families. 27.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.05.

The median age in the city was 37.2 years. 26.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.3% were from 25 to 44; 25.5% were from 45 to 64; and 13.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.8% male and 51.2% female.

2000 census[]

As of the census of 2000, there were 22,434 people, 8,704 households, and 5,936 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,779.9 people per square mile (687.4/km²). There were 8,940 housing units at an average density of 709.3 per square mile (273.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.09% White, 1.56% African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.99% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.92% from other races, and 1.27% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.31% of the population.

There were 8,704 households out of which 35.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.5% were married couples living together, 8.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.8% were non-families. 26.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.08.

In the city the population was spread out with 28.1% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 95.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $45,660, and the median income for a family was $54,883. Males had a median income of $37,691 versus $25,511 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,513. About 4.3% of families and 6.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.9% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those age 65 or over.

Culture and society[]

Parts of the 1995 movie Angus were filmed in and around Owatonna, including Owatonna High School, its football team, and marching band.[22]

In 1974, the City of Owatonna purchased the campus of the former Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children, which had been in operation from 1886 until 1945. The site was renamed West Hills, and now serves as an administrative center for the City of Owatonna, as well as housing several non-profit organizations in the various historic buildings, including the Owatonna Arts Center.[23]

Notable people[]

  • Ken Christianson, artist and musician, graduate of Owatonna Senior High.
  • Masanori Mark Christianson, art director and musician, graduate of Owatonna Senior High.
  • Lillian Colton, crop artist.
  • Casey Driessen, fiddler
  • Elijah Easton, farmer and member of the Minnesota House of Representatives
  • Theodore Marcus Hansen, Lutheran pastor and educator, pastor in Owatonna from 1948-1952.
  • Mike Hegstrand, professional wrestler, Hawk, One half of the Road Warriors, 1958-2003. Born in Owatonna, Resided on Xerxes Ave.
  • Noel Jenke, NFL player
  • Felix Kaplan, Minnesota State Senate member
  • Don Laughlin, founder of the resort town of Laughlin, Nevada, born and raised in Owatonna
  • Drew C. MacEwen, Washington State State Representative was born in Owatonna on June 12, 1973
  • E.G. Marshall, actor known for his role as the unflappable Juror #4 in the Henry Fonda classic 12 Angry Men and as the lead in the TV series The Defenders, was born in Owatonna on June 18, 1910.
  • Craig Minowa, lead singer of Cloud Cult and founder of Minnesota record label Earthology Records.
  • Fred L. Peterson, mayor of Portland, Oregon from 1953–1956
  • Sean Tillman a.k.a. Har Mar Superstar. Raised in Owatonna
  • Evan S. Tyler, North Dakota State Representative.
  • Harry Williams, successful songwriter, and sometime director for Mack Sennett graduated from Pillsbury Military Academy.
  • Travis Wiuff, a.k.a. "Diesel", MMA fighter, UFC
  • Adam Young, a.k.a. Owl City and co-founder of Windsor Airlift, world famous multi platinum selling international superstar. Wrote famous songs like Fireflies (Owl City Song) and Good Time (Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen Song). He still lives in Owatonna today.


  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 2014-07-24. 
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File". American FactFinder. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Upham, Warren (reprint, 2001). Minnesota Place Names: A Geographical Encyclopedia
  7. ^ Letters to Bohemia: A Czech Settler Writes from Owatonna, 1856-1858
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ (AP via Google News)
  12. ^ [1] Owatonna employer profile
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Kory Kath#cite note-3
  16. ^,
  17. ^ Owatonna Express official website, 27 May 2008
  18. ^, 15 May 2008
  19. ^ [2]
  20. ^ [3]
  21. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  22. ^ IMDB, Angus
  23. ^ Owatonna Arts Center

External links[]

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Coordinates: 44°5′3.44″N 93°13′33.6″W / 44.0842889, -93.226

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Owatonna, Minnesota. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.