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Mankato, Minnesota
North Riverfront Drive Commercial District
North Riverfront Drive Commercial District
Key City
Leading the way...
Location of the city of Mankatowithin Blue Earth Countyin the state of Minnesota
Location of the city of Mankato
within Blue Earth County
in the state of Minnesota
Country United States
State Minnesota
Counties Blue Earth, Nicollet, and Le Sueur
Founded 1852
 • Type City charter
 • City 19.40 sq mi (50.25 km2)
 • Land 19.04 sq mi (49.31 km2)
 • Water 0.36 sq mi (0.93 km2)
794 ft (238 m)
 • City 44,488
 • Density 2,254.78/sq mi (870.59/km2)
 • Metro
103,566 (US: 353rd)
Demonym(s) Mankatoans
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 507
FIPS code 27-39878
GNIS feature ID 0647438

Mankato ( man-KAY-toh) is a city in Blue Earth, Nicollet, and Le Sueur counties in the state of Minnesota. The population was 44,488 according to the 2020 census, making it the 22nd-largest city in Minnesota, and the 5th-largest outside of the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area. It is along a large bend of the Minnesota River at its confluence with the Blue Earth River. Mankato is across the Minnesota River from North Mankato. Mankato and North Mankato have a combined population of 58,763 according to the 2020 census. It completely encompasses the town of Skyline. North of Mankato Regional Airport, a tiny non-contiguous part of the city lies within Le Sueur County. Most of the city is in Blue Earth County.

Mankato is the larger of the two principal cities of the Mankato-North Mankato metropolitan area, which covers Blue Earth and Nicollet Counties and had a combined population of 103,566 at the 2020 census. The U.S. Census Bureau designated Mankato a Metropolitan Statistical Area in November 2008.

In 2017, named Mankato the second-best small college town in the United States.


The area was long settled by various cultures of indigenous peoples. After European colonization began on the East Coast, pressure from settlement and other Native American tribes caused different peoples to migrate into the area. By the mid-nineteenth century Dakota language–speaking four divisions of the Dakota Sioux were the primary indigenous group in the territory.

Henry Jackson (1811–1857), one of the pioneers of Mankato, served as the first Justice of the Peace in St. Paul (1843), first Postmaster of St. Paul (1846–49), and a member of the first Territorial Assembly.

Mankato Township was not settled by European Americans until Parsons King Johnson in February 1852, as part of the nineteenth century migration of people from the east across the Midwest. New residents organized the city of Mankato on May 11, 1858. The city was organized by Henry Jackson, Parsons King Johnson, Col. D.A. Robertson, Justus C. Ramsey, and unnamed others. A popular story says that the city was intended to have been named Mahkato, but a typographical error by a clerk established the name as Mankato. According to Upham, quoting historian Thomas Hughes of Mankato, "The honor of christening the new city was accorded to Col. Robertson. He had taken the name from Nicollet's book, in which the French explorer compared the 'Mahkato" or Blue Earth River, with all its tributaries, to the water nymphs and their uncle in the German legend of Undine.'...No more appropriate name could be given the new city, than that of the noble river at whose mouth it is located." While it may or may not be true that the city was intended to be called Mahkato, the Dakota called the river Makato Osa Watapa (meaning "the river where blue earth is gathered." The Anglo settlers adapted that as the Blue Earth River. Notwithstanding the above history of the name for town of Mankato - Dakota word for Blue Earth, according to Frederick Webb Hodge, in his "Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico," Volume 1, page 801, the town was named after the older of the two like-named chiefs of the Mdewakanton division of the Santee Dakota, whose village stood on or near the site of the present town.

Ishtakhaba, also known as Chief Sleepy Eye, of the Sisseton band of Dakota Indians was said to have directed settlers to this location. He said the site at the confluence of the Minnesota and Blue Earth Rivers was well suited for building and for river traffic, and yet safe from flooding.

TotallyFreeImages com-205114-Standard-preview
Execution of the thirty-eight Sioux Indians at Mankato Minnesota, December 25, 1862

On December 26, 1862, the US Army carried out the largest mass execution in U.S. history at Mankato following the Dakota War of 1862. Thirty-eight Dakota Native Americans were hanged for their parts in the uprising. A military tribunal had sentenced 303 to death. President Lincoln reviewed the record and pardoned 265, believing they had been involved in legitimate defense against military forces. Episcopal Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple had urged leniency in the case, but his position was not politically popular in Minnesota. Lincoln's intervention was not popular at the time. Two commemorative statues are located on the site of the hangings (now home to the Blue Earth County Library and Reconciliation Park).

Minnesota canneries historical marker
Historical marker stating Mankato as having nation's first carp cannery.

In 1880, Mankato ranked fourth in size in the state. The population was 5,500.

Former Vice President Schuyler Colfax died while traveling in Mankato on January 13, 1885.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.26 square miles (47.29 km2), of which 17.91 square miles (46.39 km2) is land and 0.35 square miles (0.91 km2) is water. The Minnesota, Blue Earth, and Le Sueur Rivers all flow through or near the city.


Mankato has a humid continental climate, type Dfa (hot summer subtype). Winters are cold, with snow cover (continuous most winter seasons) beginning typically between mid-November and mid-December, ending in March most years. However, Mankato often receives less snow than areas to its north and east. For example, Minneapolis, 75 miles northeast of Mankato, averages over 54 inches of snow per winter season, compared to Mankato's seasonal average of 35 inches. The coldest month, January, has an average monthly temperature around 14 degrees F. A significant hazard during winter is dangerously low wind-chill temperatures, as Arctic air outbreaks rush into the area from Canada, borne on high winds; this can bring ground blizzard conditions, especially in nearly rural areas. Summers are warm, with occasional but usually brief hot, humid periods, often interspersed with pushes of cooler air from Canada, often preceded by showers and thunderstorms. The warmest month, July, has an average monthly temperature around 73 degrees F. Precipitation falls year round, but falls mostly as snow from December to February, sometimes March, and as showers and thunderstorms during the warmer season, from May to September. Mankato's average wettest months are from June to August, with frequent thunderstorm activity. Mankato lies on the northern fringe of the central United States' main tornado belt, with lower risk than in Iowa and Missouri to the south. The highest-risk months for severe thunderstorms and (rarely) tornadoes, are May through July. However, a very unusual early tornado swarm affected areas within 20 miles of Mankato on March 29, 1998, when an F3 tornado hit St. Peter, 13 miles to Mankato's north.

Climate data for Mankato, Minnesota
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 62
Average high °F (°C) 23
Average low °F (°C) 6
Record low °F (°C) −38
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.96
Average snowfall inches (cm) 7.5
Source: National Climatic Data Center


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 3,482
1880 5,550 59.4%
1890 8,838 59.2%
1900 10,599 19.9%
1910 10,365 −2.2%
1920 12,469 20.3%
1930 14,039 12.6%
1940 15,654 11.5%
1950 18,809 20.2%
1960 23,797 26.5%
1970 30,895 29.8%
1980 28,651 −7.3%
1990 31,477 9.9%
2000 32,427 3.0%
2010 39,309 21.2%
2020 44,488 13.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
2020 Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 39,309 people, 14,851 households, and 7,093 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,194.8 inhabitants per square mile (847.4/km2). There were 15,784 housing units at an average density of 881.3 per square mile (340.3/km2). The city's racial makeup was 89.9% White, 4.0% African American, 0.3% Native American, 2.8% Asian, 0.8% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 2.9% of the population.

There were 14,851 households, of which 22.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.0% were married couples living together, 9.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 52.2% were non-families. 30.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.91.

The median age in the city was 25.4 years. 16.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 32.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.8% were from 25 to 44; 16.6% were from 45 to 64; and 10.6% were 65 years of age or older. The city's gender makeup was 50.0% male and 50.0% female.

Major events

  • Minnesota State University has been home to the Minnesota Vikings summer training camp for the past 50 years.

Places of interest

The original Happy Chef Restaurant and corporate offices on U.S. Highway 169
WPA Minneopa Latrine
Latrine building built by the Works Progress Administration in 1939 in Minneopa State Park
  • The Betsy & Tacy Houses
  • Blue Earth County Courthouse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)
  • Federal Courthouse and Post Office (NRHP)
  • First National Bank of Mankato (NRHP)
  • First Presbyterian Church (NRHP)
  • Franklin Rogers Park, home of the Mankato Moondogs of the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer baseball league
  • Good Counsel Hill
  • Happy Chef original restaurant and company headquarters; Mankato also is home to the last 36-foot Happy Chef statue
  • The Hubbard House Blue Earth County Historical Society - French Second Empire style built in 1871 (NRHP)
  • The Lorin Cray House (NRHP)
  • Minneopa State Park is located west of Mankato (two NRHP listings)
  • Mount Kato
  • The River Hills Mall
  • Sibley Park is a city park located along the river in Mankato.
  • The Verizon Wireless Center, formerly operated under the names Midwest Wireless Civic Center and Alltel Center, is an arena in downtown Mankato.



Public transportation in Mankato is provided by the Mankato Transit System. The city is served by Mankato Regional Airport which has no commercial flights. Under MnDOT's 2015 State Rail Plan, Mankato is listed as a Tier 1 Corridor for regional rail service from Minneapolis and/or St. Paul. U.S. Highways 14 and 169 and Minnesota State Highways 22 and 60 are four of the main routes in Mankato.

Major highways

The following routes are within the city of Mankato.

  • US 14.svg U.S. Highway 14
  • US 169 (MN).svg U.S. Highway 169
  • MN-22.svg Minnesota State Highway 22
  • MN-60.svg Minnesota State Highway 60


Top employers

According to the City's 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of employees
1 Mayo Clinic Health System 2,300
2 Minnesota State University 1,816
3 Independent school District 77 1,450
4 Mankato Clinic 750
5 Hy-Vee 710
6 Blue Earth County 479
7 Mankato Rehabilitation Center Inc 441
8 Monarch Healthcare Management 436
9 The City of Mankato 382
10 Walmart 350


Old Main, Bethany Lutheran College

The Mankato Area Public Schools are consolidated to include the cities of Mankato, North Mankato, Eagle Lake, and Madison Lake. There are ten elementary schools (Franklin, Eagle Lake, Kennedy, Washington, Roosevelt, Jefferson, Monroe, Hoover, Rosa Parks, and Bridges); two middle schools (Dakota Meadows Middle School and Prairie Winds Middle School); and two high schools (Mankato West High School and Mankato East High School).

Mankato has four parochial schools: Loyola Catholic School, Immanuel Lutheran Grade School and High School (K–12), Mount Olive Lutheran School (K–8) and Risen Savior Lutheran School (K–8). There is also a public charter school, Kato Public Charter School. The alternative school Central High, on Fulton Street, is another educational option.

The Blue Earth County Library, part of the Traverse des Sioux Library System, serves the city.

Higher education institutions

  • Minnesota State University was opened as the second state normal school in 1868 and is the second largest university in the state of Minnesota by enrollment. With an annual operating budget of over $200 million, Minnesota State provides a net economic benefit of over $452 million annually to Minnesota's south-central region. It is one of the largest employers in the Mankato area.
  • South Central College
  • Bethany Lutheran College
  • Rasmussen University

Notable people

  • Barry Anderson, Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court
  • Walter Jackson Bate, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, born in Mankato in 1918
  • Daniel Buck, Minnesota jurist and politician
  • Con Bunde, Alaska state legislator and educator
  • Frederick Russell Burnham, "father of the international scouting movement" born near Mankato in 1861
  • Joseph Francis Busch, Roman Catholic Prelate, Diocese of Rapid City, Diocese of Saint Cloud, Minnesota
  • Howard Burnham, mining engineer, born near Mankato in 1870
  • Jimmy Chin, professional climber and mountaineer, Academy Award winner for Best Documentary
  • George Contant, outlaw of the American West, brother of John Sontag
  • Marvel Cooke, journalist, writer and civil rights activist
  • David R. Cummiskey, Minnesota legislator
  • Craig Dahl, NFL safety, New York Giants
  • Adolph Olson Eberhart, seventeenth Governor of Minnesota
  • William S. Ervin, Attorney General of Minnesota
  • Cliff Fagan, basketball referee, Basketball Hall of Fame
  • Sal Frederick, Minnesota legislator and businessman
  • Kelly Gage, Minnesota legislator and lawyer
  • Albert P. Halfhill, tuna packing industry
  • Milton Hanna, Civil War veteran, Medal of Honor recipient
  • Justin Hartwig, former NFL center
  • Geoff Herbach, novelist
  • Robert Louis Hodapp, Roman Catholic bishop
  • Ron Johnson, Republican U.S. Senator
  • Jack Kodell, stage magician
  • Sinclair Lewis, author
  • Mike Lindell, founder of MyPillow
  • Maud Hart Lovelace, author of the Betsy-Tacy series of books
  • Bob Paffrath, professional football player
  • Mark Piepho, Minnesota politician and businessman
  • Mike Ploog, comic book and film-production artist
  • Dudley Riggs, Brave New Workshop, graduated from Minnesota State University Mankato
  • Joseph Rosser, Secretary of Minnesota Territory and lawyer
  • Daniel L. Ryan, Roman Catholic bishop
  • Julia Sears, pioneering feminist and suffragette
  • Steven B. Szarke, born in Mankato, Minnesota state legislator and lawyer
  • Glen Taylor, owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx basketball teams
  • John Eaton Tourtellotte, lawyer, Civil War general
  • Adam Thielen, NFL wide receiver, Minnesota Vikings, graduated from Minnesota State University
  • Arthur S. Thomas, Chief of Chaplains of the US Air Force
  • Alma Wagen, first female guide at Mount Rainier National Park
  • Tim Walz, 41st Governor of Minnesota, former US Representative for Minnesota's 1st congressional district
  • Cedric Yarbrough, actor, graduated from Minnesota State University
  • Steve Zahn, actor and comedian, was raised in Mankato

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See also

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