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Houston County, Minnesota facts for kids

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Houston County
Houston County Courthouse in Caledonia
Map of Minnesota highlighting Houston County
Location within the U.S. state of Minnesota
Map of the United States highlighting Minnesota
Minnesota's location within the U.S.
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Country  United States
State  Minnesota
Founded February 23, 1854 (created)
April 4, 1854 (organized)
Named for Sam Houston
Seat Caledonia
Largest city La Crescent
 • Total 569 sq mi (1,470 km2)
 • Land 552 sq mi (1,430 km2)
 • Water 17 sq mi (40 km2)  2.9%%
 • Total 18,843
 • Density 34.1/sq mi (13.2/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 1st

Houston County is a county in the U.S. state of Minnesota. At the 2020 United States Census, the population was 18,843. Its county seat is Caledonia.

Houston County is included in the La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Four years before Minnesota was admitted to the Union as the 32nd state on May 11, 1858, Houston County was chartered after its division from the eastern half of Fillmore County on April 4, 1854. The county seat was the village of Houston for a few years, but the county board moved the official records to Caledonia for safe storage in the cabin of Commissioner Samuel McPhail. The first court hearings were held in that cabin, and a one-story courthouse and jail was built in Caledonia in 1857. Turmoil over the county seat continued, a two-story building was built in Caledonia in 1867, and several referenda allowed Caledonia to prevail as the county seat by 1874. From that point on, Caledonia prospered, and Houston slowly diminished. The only other area of prominence was La Crescent, which benefited from its connection to La Crosse, Wisconsin.

The county name was chosen to honor Sam Houston, who was president of Texas before its annexation by the United States and afterward was a senator from that state. In the years 1854-56, when antagonism between the North and South on slavery questions would lead eventually to the Civil War, Houston aspired to nomination as the Democratic candidate for the national presidency. In October 1854, the general Democratic committee of New Hampshire recommended him as "the people's candidate" for the campaign in 1856. His popularity in Minnesota at that time recommended the name of this county, and, likewise, counties in Tennessee and Texas and cities and villages in Texas, Mississippi, Missouri, and other states bear his name.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 569 square miles (1,470 km2), of which 552 square miles (1,430 km2) is land and 17 square miles (44 km2) (2.9%) is water.

Among other parts of southeastern Minnesota, the county is in the Driftless Zone, marked by the absence of glacial drift and presence of bedrock cut by streams into steep hills. The plateau that surrounds Caledonia, the county seat, includes flat, fertile farm land and hilly, verdant pasture land.

Beaver Creek Valley State Park
Soils of Beaver Creek Valley State Park neighborhood


The following lakes are located within the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.

  • Blue Lake
  • Hayshore Lake
  • Lawrence Lake
  • Target Lake

Adjacent counties

National protected area


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 6,645
1870 14,936 124.8%
1880 16,332 9.3%
1890 14,653 −10.3%
1900 15,400 5.1%
1910 14,297 −7.2%
1920 14,013 −2.0%
1930 13,845 −1.2%
1940 14,735 6.4%
1950 14,435 −2.0%
1960 16,588 14.9%
1970 17,556 5.8%
1980 18,382 4.7%
1990 18,497 0.6%
2000 19,718 6.6%
2010 19,027 −3.5%
2020 18,843 −1.0%
US Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2020
USA Houston County, Minnesota age pyramid
Age pyramid of county residents based on 2000 census data


Major highways

  • MN-16.svg Minnesota State Highway 16
  • MN-26.svg Minnesota State Highway 26
  • MN-44.svg Minnesota State Highway 44
  • MN-76.svg Minnesota State Highway 76


  • Houston County Airport




  • Black Hammer Township
  • Brownsville Township
  • Caledonia Township
  • Crooked Creek Township
  • Hokah Township
  • Houston Township
  • Jefferson Township
  • La Crescent Township
  • Mayville Township
  • Money Creek Township
  • Mound Prairie Township
  • Sheldon Township
  • Spring Grove Township
  • Union Township
  • Wilmington Township
  • Winnebago Township
  • Yucatan Township

Unincorporated communities

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