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City of Stillwater

Stillwater is a city in the U.S. state of Minnesota and the county seat of Washington County. It is in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area, on the west bank of the St. Croix River, across from Houlton, Wisconsin. Stillwater’s population was 18,225 at the 2010 census. Stillwater is often called “the birthplace of Minnesota” due to its role in the establishment of the state.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.98 square miles (20.67 km2); 6.96 square miles (18.03 km2) is land and 1.02 square miles (2.64 km2) is water. State Highways 36, 95, and 96 are three of the community’s main routes.

Stillwater receives an average annual snowfall of 42 inches (1,100 mm). Average annual rainfall is 24 in (610 mm). Each year has an average of 14 days above 90 °F (32 °C).

The name “Stillwater” was proposed in 1843 by John McKusick, who built its first sawmill and was later a state senator. The name derives from the calmness of the St. Croix River near the town center. It is also believed that McKusick had fond memories of Stillwater, Maine.

On July 29 and September 29, 1837, treaties were signed between the US government and the local Ojibwa and Dakota nations that allowed settlement in the St. Croix Valley. The town was founded by settlers drawn by the area’s then-abundant lumber and river traffic, making it one of Minnesota’s oldest towns, preceding Minneapolis by several years. Stillwater was officially incorporated as a city on March 4, 1854 (the same day as St. Paul).

Stillwater is often referred to as the birthplace of Minnesota. In 1848, a territorial convention that began the process of establishing Minnesota as a state was held in Stillwater, at the corner of Myrtle and Main Streets. Minnesota officially became a territory in 1849 and a state in 1858.

As more evidence of Stillwater’s importance at the time, the convention selected three leading Minnesota cities as locations for three important public institutions: Minneapolis got the University of Minnesota, Saint Paul became the capital, and Stillwater the site of the territory’s first prison. The Minnesota Territorial Prison (later Minnesota State Prison) was opened in 1853. The prison held Cole, Jim, and Bob Younger, three of the Younger brothers of the James–Younger Gang

Lumbering was the predominant industry in the St. Croix River Valley in the second half of the 19th century, and for many years logs were sent down the St. Croix, collected at the St. Croix Boom Site two miles upstream of Stillwater, and processed in Stillwater’s many sawmills. Steamboats were used most widely from 1860 to 1890, and a few are still used for entertainment today.

David Swain operated a shipyard and engine works in Stillwater. Excursion steamboats, such as the Verne Swain and the Capitol, appeared at the docks in the early 20th century.

Stillwater sent men of the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Company B and the 8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment Company C to fight during the American Civil War.

On October 18, 1921, Charles Strite invented the automatic pop-up bread toaster in Stillwater. By 1926, the Toastmaster Company began to market the first household toaster using a redesigned version of Strite’s.

In 1931, construction of the Stillwater lift bridge over the St. Croix River was completed at a final cost of $460,174, which was split equally between Minnesota and Wisconsin. The lift bridge is one of the city’s most iconic and visible local monuments. It was part of Minnesota State Highway 36 until 2017, when it closed. In 2020 it became part of a five-mile trail loop running through Stillwater and Houlton, Wisconsin.

In 1996 the city of Stillwater entered into an agreement with Stillwater Township to annex land. In 2015 the Stillwater city council approved the annexing the last of the land covered by the agreement. The city’s western border is now Manning Avenue (County Road 15). The northern border is now mostly, but not entirely, Minnesota Highway 96.

In Popular Culture

  • In film, television, and books
    In The Mighty Ducks films, one of the two “bash brothers”, Fulton Reed (played by Elden Henson), is from Stillwater.
  • The novel series The Emigrants and the musical Kristina från Duvemåla tell the story of a family of Swedish emigrants who journey to Minnesota in 1850. Much of the story takes place in Stillwater.
  • In Juno, Bren MacGuff mentions purchasing an expensive antique item at a Stillwater store.
  • In the Supernatural episode “The Purge”, Sam and Dean head to Stillwater when a competitive eater mysteriously dies in impossible circumstances.
  • The entirety of the film The Unearthing takes place in Stillwater and the story revolves around a local ghost legend.
  • In Fargo, Stillwater is mentioned, referring specifically to the prison.
  • Many Corridor Digital YouTube videos were filmed in and around Stillwater.
  • The Disney film Clouds is set in Stillwater, based on a true story

Movies filmed entirely or partially in Stillwater

  • Grumpy Old Men (1993)
  • The Cure (1995)
  • Grumpier Old Men (1995)
  • Fargo (1996)
  • Beautiful Girls (1996)
  • Overnight Delivery (1998)
  • Paperboys (2001)
  • The Unearthing (2015)
  • Wilson (2017)

Notable people

  • Ed Ackerson, musician (Polara, The 27 Various) and record producer (The Jayhawks, The Replacements, Motion City Soundtrack), born and attended high school in Stillwater
  • Brian Arnfelt, NFL defensive end, attended high school in Stillwater
  • Michele Bachmann, U.S. Representative, lived in Stillwater
  • Ben Blankenship, member of Team USA Track and Field who set the world record in the distance medley
  • Robert Brown, Minnesota state senator and educator, born in Stillwater
  • James B. Clark, director and Oscar-nominated film editor, born in Stillwater
  • Jessie Diggins, Olympic gold medalist in cross-country skiing, attended high school in Stillwater
  • Nate Dwyer, NFL linebacker, born in Stillwater
  • Chris Engler, NBA player, born in Stillwater
  • Sean Graham, retired professional track athlete and current head track and cross country coach at American University
  • Sam Gorski, co-founder of Corridor Digital
  • Phil Housley, Hockey Hall of Fame player and NHL coach, coached in Stillwater
  • Sherri Jarvis, murder victim
  • Todd Kalis, NFL guard, born in Stillwater
  • Jessica Lange, actress, resided in Stillwater
  • Frankie Lee, musician, born in Stillwater
  • Chris Maddock, stand-up comedian[19]
  • Jonah Marais, member of boy band Why Don’t We
  • Denis McDonough, 11th Secretary of Veterans Affairs and White House Chief of Staff for President Obama, born in Stillwater
  • Harriet McPherson, Minnesota state legislator, farmer, and educator
  • Bob Nelson, NFL linebacker, born in Stillwater
  • Socrates Nelson, Minnesota state senator, resided in Stillwater
  • Karl G. Neumeier, Minnesota state senator and lawyer, born in Stillwater
  • Glen Perkins, pitcher for Minnesota Twins, born in Stillwater
  • Sam Shepard, playwright and actor, resided in Stillwater
  • Zach Sobiech, musical artist who wrote the #1 hit “Clouds” after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma; inspiration for the Disney film Clouds
  • Rich Sommer, actor, raised in Stillwater
  • LaVyrle Spencer, a New York Times bestselling author, lived in Stillwater
  • Alpheus Beede Stickney, a famous railroad builder, lived in Stillwater, born in Maine
  • C. Gardner Sullivan, screenwriter and producer, born in Stillwater
  • John B. Taft, farmer and Minnesota state legislator, resided in Stillwater
  • Butch Thompson, jazz pianist and clarinetist, went to high school in Stillwater[20]
  • Thomas Vanek, retired NHL winger for Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild and others, resides in Stillwater


“Stillwater, Minnesota” │,_Minnesota

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