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Winona, Minnesota

Winona, Minnesota
Winona in autumn, 2015
Winona in autumn, 2015
Nickname(s): The Island City
Location of the city of Winonawithin Winona Countyin the state of Minnesota
Location of the city of Winona
within Winona County
in the state of Minnesota
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Winona
 • Type Mayor - Council
 • Mayor Mark F. Peterson
 • Total 24.13 sq mi (62.50 km2)
 • Land 18.84 sq mi (48.80 km2)
 • Water 5.29 sq mi (13.70 km2)
Elevation 655*–1,247** ft (200*–380** m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 27,592
 • Estimate (2013)[3] 27,546
 • Density 1,464.5/sq mi (565.4/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-6)
ZIP codes 55987
Area code(s) 507
FIPS code 27-71032[4]
GNIS feature ID 0654269[5]
Website City of Winona
  • Elevation in valley **Elevation on bluffs

Winona is a city in and the county seat of Winona County, in the state of Minnesota.[6] Located in picturesque bluff country on the Mississippi River, its most noticeable physical landmark is Sugar Loaf. The city is named after legendary figure Winona, said to have been the first-born daughter of Chief Wapasha (Wabasha) III.[7] The population was 27,592 at the 2010 census.


  • Geography 1
  • Climate 2
  • Micropolitan area 3
  • Demographics 4
    • 2010 census 4.1
    • 2000 census 4.2
  • History 5
  • Economy 6
    • Transportation 6.1
    • Industry 6.2
    • Top employers 6.3
  • Government and politics 7
  • Education 8
  • Media 9
  • Notable people 10
  • Sister cities 11
  • Landmark 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.13 square miles (62.50 km2); 18.84 square miles (48.80 km2) is land and 5.29 square miles (13.70 km2) is water.[1]

Bluffs with Sugar Loaf behind Lake Winona

Winona's primary suburbs are Goodview, Stockton, Minnesota City and Rollingstone to the west, Homer to the southeast and Bluff Siding is 3 miles directly across the interstate bridge to the north and Fountain City to the north. Rochester is 44 miles to the west of Winona, La Crescent is 21 miles to the south, and La Crosse is 30 miles to the southeast.


Winona's weather station, as well as neighboring city, La Crescent's station, records the warmest climate of any in Minnesota, with a normal year-round average (1971–2000) temperature of 48.9 °F,"Temperature Summary Station: 219067 WINONA, MN,1971–2000 NCDC Normals". Historical Climate Data. Retrieved 2007-12-16.  compared to 43.2° in Austin to the city's southwest or 45.4° in Minneapolis, to the northwest, which experiences a strong urban heat island effect. Temperatures are generally very mild by Minnesota standards year-round; the January mean is 17.6°, while that of July is 75.8°.

Climate data for Winona, Minnesota (1981-2010, snowfall&extremes 1893-present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 64
Average high °F (°C) 27.0
Average low °F (°C) 10.4
Record low °F (°C) −35
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.17
Average snowfall inches (cm) 10.09

Micropolitan area

The United States Office of Management and Budget has designated Winona as the principal city of the Winona, MN Micropolitan Statistical Area (µSA).[9]


2010 census

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 27,592 people, 10,449 households, and 5,022 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,464.5 inhabitants per square mile (565.4/km2). There were 10,989 housing units at an average density of 583.3 per square mile (225.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.0% White, 1.9% African American, 0.3% Native American, 2.9% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.7% of the population.

There were 10,449 households of which 20.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.4% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 51.9% were non-families. 35.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.84.

The median age in the city was 26.7 years. 14.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 33.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 18.5% were from 25 to 44; 20.5% were from 45 to 64; and 13.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.3% male and 52.7% female.

2000 census

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 27,069 residents. The population density was 1,485.0 people per square mile (573.3/km²). There were 10,666 housing units at an average density of 585.1 per square mile (225.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.47% White, 1.13% African American, 0.23% Native American, 2.65% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.47% from other races, and 1.03% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.35% of the population.

A Mississippi River boathouse community in Winona.

Ancestries: German (43.2%), Norwegian (15.5%), Polish (14.8%), Irish (13.0%), English (5.5%), French (3.6%).

There were 10,301 households out of which 23.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.4% were married couples living together, 8.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.3% were non-families. 35.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the city, the population was spread out with 18.0% under the age of 18, 27.5% from 18 to 24, 22.2% from 25 to 44, 18.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 88.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,845, and the median income for a family was $48,413. Males had a median income of $31,047 versus $23,302 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,783. About 6.5% of families and 17.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.5% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.


The original plat of the City is located on a sand bar of the Mississippi River, and surrounded by river bottoms and wooded blufflands. Evidence gathered by archaeologists indicates that people lived in the valley as early as 9500 B.C. The earliest evidence of human habitation in Winona County is based on the discovery of a Woodland period site (circa 800 B.C.-900 A.D.). The present-day city of Winona was founded on the village of Keoxa. As the seat of the Wapasha dynasty, it was home to a Mdewakanton band of the eastern Sioux. The summer homes of the Keoxa natives were made of bark supported by a framework and poles. Their winter residence was a teepee made of about 8 buffalo hides sewn together with deer sinew, typically about 12 feet (4 m) high and 10 to 12 feet (3 to 4 m) in diameter, with a fire in the middle to keep the temperature inside the dwelling tolerable even in the coldest weather.

Winona (lower right) is on the Mississippi River, southeast of Minneapolis-St. Paul, along I-90, and east of Rochester. Nearby towns include Preston and Red Wing, Minnesota.

Lieutenant Zebulon Pike left Fort Bellefontaine on August 9, 1805 with orders to find the source of the Mississippi. On September 14, 1805, he reached the Mississippi Valley near island number 72 (on his map), which would one day be Winona, Minnesota, and recorded his impressions in his log.

Less than fifty years later, Pike's island 72 was selected by Captain Orrin Smith as a townsite on the west bank of the Mississippi River. For over twenty-five years, Smith had sailed the river between Galena, Illinois and Fort Snelling, Minnesota as owner and pilot of the river packet Nominee. In 1851 Smith learned that the treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota would establish a reservation in the interior of the state, and realized that there would be a rush to develop townsites on the Minnesota side of the river. On October 15, 1851 Orrin Smith became the founder of Winona, by landing his ship's carpenter, Mr. Erwin Johnson, and two other men (Smith and Stevens) with the purpose of claiming title to the riverfront and surrounding prairie land. When the town site was surveyed and plotted by John Ball, United States deputy surveyor, it was given the name of "Montezuma", as requested by Johnson and Smith. Henry D. Huff bought an interest in the town site in 1853. With the consent of Capt. Smith, Huff erased the name of Montezuma and inserted the name of Winona on the plot, a name derived from the Dakota Indian word "We-no-nah", which translates to "first-born daughter".

Winona was settled by non-Native Americans in 1851, and the town was laid out into lots in 1852-3 with growth expanding rapidly over the years. The original settlers were old stock Yankee immigrants from New England.[12][13] The population increased from 815 in December, 1855, to 3,000 in December, 1856. In 1856 German immigrants arrived as well.[13] The Germans and the Yankees worked together planting trees and building businesses based on lumber, wheat, steamboating and railroads. Together, they were so successful that for a time Winona had more millionaires than any other city of its size in the United States.[13] In 1860 Winona had a population of 2,456, and was third largest city in Minnesota until the late 1880s. Part of the surge in population in 1856 was the fact that land claims became legal in 1855 with the completion of land surveys and the opening of a local federal land office. It was incorporated as a city in 1857.

1855 marked the arrival of Winona's first Kashubian Polish family, the Bronks. So many more Kashubians followed them that Winona became the largest American center of the Kashubian diaspora. At the turn of the 19th century, by estimate of the Kashubian poet Hieronim Derdowski, who settled in Winona and edited the newspaper Wiarus, 4,000 of Winona's 5,000 Poles (out of its total population of nearly 20,000) were Kashubians. As Winona's Kashubians became more acclimated to American society, they came to identify with the far more numerous Polish Americans. Only recently, due to the efforts of the Polish Cultural Institute and Museum, has Winona's Kashubian culture begun to be reclaimed.

Growth in Winona was built on a railway and steamboat transportation system, wheat milling, and lumber. In 1856 over 1,300 steamboats stopped at Winona. The railway system grew and the Winona Railway Bridge, built of steel and iron with a steam-powered swingspan over the river, was the second railway bridge to span the Mississippi. The first train crossed on July 4, 1891 and the bridge served the Green Bay & Western (GBW) and Burlington Route for the next 94 years until it was closed in 1985 and dismantled in the fall of 1990. In 1892, a wagon toll-bridge over the Mississippi, a steel high-bridge, was completed and remained in service until 1942.

Main Channel Bridge

During the 1860s southern Minnesota was the greatest wheat producing region in the country and Winona was the main port for shipping Minnesota wheat. By 1870, Winona was the fourth largest wheat shipping port in the United States. In 1899, Bay State Milling was founded, and is still in operation today. John Laird started the first lumber mill in 1855; he later was joined by his cousins James and Matthew Norton in founding the Laird-Norton Co. The Winona sawmills reached their peak production in 1892 when they produced over 160 million board feet (380,000 m³) annually and ranked eighth in production of lumber in the upper Midwest.

A famous resident of Winona was J. R. Watkins, the man who invented the "money back guarantee" in 1868 when he started Watkins Incorporated. In the early 1900s he renamed the company the J. R. Watkins Medical Company. He died before the completion of the company's current factory and offices in 1911. Now called J. R. Watkins Incorporated, it is one of the oldest companies in the nation. The company also trades in Canada, China and as of May 2009 in the United Kingdom as Watkins UK. The company museum and factory are open for visitation and touring 6 days a week.

For a decade (1907–1917) Winona was home to pioneer American composer Carl Ruggles. Carl (Charles Sprague) Ruggles was born in East Marion, Massachusetts, on March 11, 1876. Trained as a violinist, he also studied theory and composition in Boston with Josef Claus and John Knowles Paine. (Plans to study composition with Dvorak in Prague were put off when a financial sponsor died). In 1907, he moved to Winona, where he founded, and for a decade conducted, the Winona Symphony. He also gave lessons, composed, and began painting during this time. Ruggles is often referred to together with composer Charles Ives.

In 1947 the Edstrom brothers (Harold and Everett), along with fellow musician Roger Busdicker, founded the Hal Leonard Corporation, currently the largest publisher of sheet music in the world.

Winona's population reached 19,714 in 1900, but thereafter declined for some years after the collapse of the lumber industry.

Winona's history is celebrated with two historic districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places (they are combined into a single local historic district administered by the city's Heritage Preservation Commission).

Valley of the Mississippi from Winona, circa 1898



Portrait of Elsie Ada Hennessy, daughter of James Hennessy, master of Wagon Works in Winona, Minnesota [2]. Circa 1900.

U.S. Highway 14, U.S. Highway 61, Minnesota Highway 43 and Wisconsin State Highway 54 are the main routes into the city. Interstate Highway 90 is located a short distance south of the city.

As a rail center, Winona was once served by five freight and passenger railroads; Milwaukee Road (CMStP&P), Burlington Route (CB&Q), Chicago & Northwestern (C&NW), Chicago Great Western (CGW) and Green Bay & Western (GB&W). Only the former Milwaukee Road station remains and is now served by Amtrak's Empire Builder daily in each direction between Chicago and Seattle and Portland. The Milwaukee Road is now Canadian Pacific, and The Chicago & Northwestern is now partially Union Pacific but mostly Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern. All the others were lost through mergers with the surviving railroads.

Winona Municipal Airport - Max Conrad Field serves general aviation in the area. It was once served by one passenger airliner, North Central Airlines until the mid-1970s.


Winona is home to the headquarters of the Watkins Corporation, Fastenal, Hal Leonard Corporation, Thern Inc., RTP Company, We-No-Nah Canoe,[14] United Building Centers, Badger Equipment Company,[15] Winona Lighting, WinCraft Sports, and Winona Pattern & Mold.[16]

Winona is also known as the stained glass capital of the United States.[17] Winona is the setting of the Civil War era romance novel, Ladyslipper by Winona native, Donna G. Weber (1951-2012).[18]

Top employers

According to the City's 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[19] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Fastenal 1,420
2 Winona Health 1,200
3 TRW Automotive Electronics 775
T-4 Independent School District 861 712
T-4 Winona State University 712
6 WinCraft 420
7 Saint Mary's University of Minnesota 391
8 RTP 375
9 County of Winona 291
10 Watlow Electric Manufacturing Company 290

Government and politics

Winona is located in Minnesota's 1st congressional district, represented by Mankato educator Tim Walz, a Democrat. At the state level, Winona is located in Senate District 28, represented by Republican Jeremy Miller, and in House District 28A, represented by Democrat Gene Pelowski.


Former College of Saint Teresa campus.
St. Paul's Episcopal church

Winona became the site of the first normal school west of the Mississippi in 1858 with the establishment of Winona Normal School (now Winona State University). This was the beginning of Winona's tradition as a center of higher education. Saint Mary's College (now Saint Mary's University) was founded as a private Catholic school in 1912. Later, as the necessary opportunity of higher education for women became apparent, the College of Saint Teresa was created. After Saint Mary's became co-ed in 1969, Saint Teresa closed down in 1988, and its facilities are now used, owned, and/or operated by Winona State University, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, and Cotter High School. Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical also has a campus in Winona.

There is also a relatively diverse variety of K-12 educational opportunities. Run by Independent School District 861, the local public school system includes five elementary schools (three in the city of Winona), the Winona Middle School, and the Winona Senior High School. The Winona Area Catholic Schools system includes St. Mary's primary school, St. Stanislaus Elementary School, Cotter Junior High School, and Cotter Senior High School. There are also other non-preparatory private schools. Bluffview Montessori Charter School, located in Winona, was the first charter Montessori, and the second charter school overall in the United States. There are also two private Lutheran K-8 schools, and Hope Lutheran High School.


Bloedow's Bakery has been a feature of east Broadway since 1924

Winona has two newspapers: the Winona Daily News, a daily morning paper; and the Winona Post, a semi-weekly paper with mid-week and Sunday editions. Papers from La Crosse, Rochester, and the Twin Cities are also commonly read.


Winona receives TV signals from neighboring cities, including several channels each from La Crosse, Rochester, Eau Claire, and the Twin Cities, although what can be received depends on the location within the area, as the extensive system of valleys and ridges may block any or all signals. There is one local public broadcasting TV network, HBCI, which is available only to subscribers of the HBC cable company.


Local stations:

Fringe stations:

Notable people

Family portrait. Children of James Hennessy, master of the Wagon Works of Winona.[20] Portrait taken in Winona, circa 1900.

Sister cities


  • Sugar Loaf is a lighted, rocky pinnacle (remaining after quarrying activity) that arises from one of the many bluffs that line Highway 61. It is located at the junction of Highway 61 and Highway 43/Mankato Avenue.


  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010".  
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder".  
  3. ^ a b "Population Estimates".  
  4. ^ a b "American FactFinder".  
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  7. ^ Porter, Cynthya (February 1, 2009). "Homecoming To Explore Roles Of American Indian Women".  
  8. ^  
  9. ^ "OMB Bulletin No. 13-01: Revised Delineations of Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Micropolitan Statistical Areas, and Combined Statistical Areas, and Guidance on Uses of the Delineations of These Areas" (PDF).  
  10. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  11. ^  
  12. ^ Winona By Walter Bennick page 8
  13. ^ a b c Minnesota: A State Guide page 263
  14. ^ "We-No-Nah Canoe". 
  15. ^ "Badger Equipment Company". 
  16. ^ "Winona Pattern & Mold". 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "City of Winona, Minnesota Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the Year Ended December 31, 2011" (PDF). 
  20. ^ Portrait and Biographical Record of Winona County, Minnesota: Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County
  21. ^ "Miasta Partnerskie". Bytów City Council Official Site (in Polish). Retrieved 2013-06-22. 

External links

  • City of Winona, MN – Official Website
  • Winona Chamber of Commerce
  • Visit Winona
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