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Red Wing
View toward downtown Red Wing and the Mississippi River, with Barn Bluff on the right
View toward downtown Red Wing and the Mississippi River, with Barn Bluff on the right
Flag of Red Wing
"Come for a visit, stay for a lifetime"
Location of the city of Red Wingwithin Goodhue Countyin the state of Minnesota
Location of the city of Red Wing
within Goodhue County
in the state of Minnesota
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Goodhue
 • Type Mayor – Council
 • Total 41.42 sq mi (107.28 km2)
 • Land 34.84 sq mi (90.22 km2)
 • Water 6.59 sq mi (17.06 km2)
735 ft (224 m)
 • Total 16,459
 • Estimate 
 • Density 468.48/sq mi (180.88/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP Code
Area code 651
FIPS code 27-53620
GNIS ID 0649885
Website City of Red Wing

Red Wing is a city in Goodhue County, Minnesota, United States, along the upper Mississippi River. The population was 16,459 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Goodhue County.

This city is named for early 19th-century Dakota Sioux chief, Red Wing. The federal government established a Mdewakanton Sioux Indian reservation—now Prairie Island Indian Community—in 1889 along the Mississippi River to free up land for new settlers. The city of Red Wing developed around it.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation placed Red Wing on its 2008 distinctive destinations list because of its "impressive architecture and enviable natural environment."


Main Street, Red Wing, 1860.

In the early 1850s, settlers from Mississippi River steamboats came to Red Wing to farm in Goodhue County. They encroached on traditional territory of the Mdewakanton Sioux.

The settlers cleared the land for wheat, the annual crop of which could pay the cost of the land. Before the railroads were constructed across the territory of Goodhue County, it produced more wheat than any other county in the country. In 1873, Red Wing led the country in the amount of wheat sold by farmers. The warehouses in the port of Red Wing could store and export more than a million bushels of wheat.

Once the railroads connected southern Minnesota with Minneapolis and Saint Anthony, where the largest flour mills were built, the port at Red Wing lost prominence.

The Aurora Ski Club in Red Wing, which was founded on February 8, 1887, was one of the first ski clubs formed in North America, reflecting skills of Scandinavian immigrants in the area.

The first North American ski jumping record was set by Norwegian immigrant Mikkjel Hemmestveit. His 37-foot flight in 1887 was established at the Aurora Ski Club's McSorley Hill.

The federal government established a Mdewakanton Sioux Indian reservation in 1889 along the Mississippi River to free up land for new settlers. It is now within the boundaries of the city of Red Wing, and is known as the Prairie Island Indian Community.

The first settlers in town built small mills, factories, and workshops, similar to ones they were familiar with in New England and the upper Midwest, from where many had come. Numerous immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Norway and Sweden settled in this area and were also skilled craftsmen. Some early industries were tanning and shoe-making, while other businessmen manufactured farm equipment, bricks, barrels, boats, furniture, pottery, and buttons. Consumables included beer and lumber. Service industries including stone-cutting, hospitality, and retailing. The St. James Hotel remains a working token of the earlier time.

Red Wing was once home to Hamline University, founded in 1854 as the first institution of higher education in the state of Minnesota. It closed in 1869 because of low enrollment due to diversion of students to the American Civil War. Chartered in St. Paul in 1871, it reopened there in 1880.

Red Wing Seminary was a Lutheran Church seminary, founded in 1879. Red Wing Seminary was the educational center for the Hauge's Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Synod in America, commonly known as the Hauge Synod. Red Wing Seminary operated until 1917.

Red Wing also was the home of Gustavus Adolphus College, a private liberal arts college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). The college was founded in Red Wing in 1862 by Eric Norelius, It moved to East Union in 1863 and then to St. Peter in 1876.

The Red Wing pottery and stoneware industry began in 1861, when county potter John Paul discovered the large, glacially deposited clay pits beds on the northwest of the city, close to Hay Creek. The first commercial pottery company, Red Wing Stoneware, was founded in 1877. It used clay from the area of the Hay Creek headwaters, close to Goodhue, near a hamlet named Claybank. A railroad branch line was built to carry clay to Red Wing for this important industry. The factory buildings remain, but only traces of the railroad, abandoned in 1937, are left.

20th century to present

The Minnesota Correctional Facility – Red Wing is housed in the former Minnesota State Training School, built in 1889. The original Romanesque building was designed by Warren B. Dunnell. He was the architect of a number of historical public buildings in Minnesota.

The institution was the subject of "Walls of Red Wing," a folk song by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan (who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016).

In the last half of the twentieth century, the United States Army Corps of Engineers built Lock and Dam No. 3 and deepened the channel on the Mississippi River to improve navigation in this area. Such projects have revitalised Mississippi River traffic for shipping grain and coal. The port of Red Wing has gained usiness as a result.

In 1973, the Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant was opened along the river. The federal government had authorized the project in consultation with the Minnesota state government. The facility is owned and operated by Xcel Energy.


  • Rolling River Music Festival- July
  • River City Days - early August
  • Fall Festival of the Arts - October
  • Diversity Festival - September
  • Fall Festival - early November


Red Wing Public Library is a member of Southeastern Libraries Cooperating, the SE Minnesota library region.


The city of Red Wing has several neighborhoods or other places annexed by the city. These include:


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 41.19 square miles (106.68 km2), of which 34.60 square miles (89.61 km2) is land and 6.59 square miles (17.07 km2) is water. The city is at the northern edge of the Driftless Area of karst topography.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 1,250
1870 4,260 240.8%
1880 5,876 37.9%
1890 6,294 7.1%
1900 7,525 19.6%
1910 9,048 20.2%
1920 8,637 −4.5%
1930 9,629 11.5%
1940 9,962 3.5%
1950 10,645 6.9%
1960 10,528 −1.1%
1970 10,441 −0.8%
1980 13,736 31.6%
1990 15,134 10.2%
2000 16,116 6.5%
2010 16,459 2.1%
2019 (est.) 16,320 −0.8%
U.S. Decennial Census


As of the 2010 Census, there were 16,459 people, 7,017 households, and 4,328 families residing in the city. The population density was 475.7 inhabitants per square mile (183.7/km2). There were 7,539 housing units at an average density of 217.9 per square mile (84.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.5% White, 1.9% African American, 2.2% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 1.2% from other races, and 2.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.7% of the population.

There were 7,017 households, of which 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.6% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 38.3% were non-families. 32.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.6% 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 2.84.

The median age in the city was 41.8 years. 22.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.9% were from 25 to 44; 27.7% were from 45 to 64; and 18.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.6% male and 51.4% female.


At the 2000 Census, there were 16,116 people, 6,562 households, and 4,166 families in the city. The population density was 455.3 per square mile (175.8 km2). There were 6,867 housing units at an average density of 194.0 per square mile (74.9/km2). The racial makeup was 94.33% White, 1.32% African American, 2.22% Native American, 0.74% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.53% from other races, and 0.82% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.27% of the population.

There were 6,562 households, of which 30.4% had children under 18 with them, 51.2% were married couples living together, 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.5% were non-families. 30.7% of all households were of individuals and 13.3% had someone living alone 65 or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family 2.94.

In the city, the population was 24.6% under 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 27.5% from 25 to 44, 23.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.5% 65 or older. The median was 39. For every 100 females, there were 93.5 males. For every 100 females 18 and over, there were 90.6 males.

The median income for a household was $43,674, and the median for a family was $54,641. Males had a median of $36,576 versus $25,477 for females. The per capita income was $21,678. About 3.9% of families and 6.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.9% of those under age 18 and 8.0% of those 65 or over.



Red Wing is connected to Wisconsin by Red Wing Bridge (officially named the Eisenhower Bridge); it carries U.S. Route 63 over the Mississippi River and its backwaters. U.S. Routes 61 and 63 and Minnesota State Highways 19 and 58 are the main intercity highways. Minnesota State Highway 292 also is in the city.

Red Wing Regional Airport is located across the Mississippi River in Pierce County, Wisconsin, near Wisconsin Highway 35 .

Red Wing's Amtrak station is served by Amtrak's Empire Builder daily in each direction between Chicago to the east, and Seattle and Portland on the west.

Sister cities


Manufacturers located in Red Wing include Red Wing Shoes, Riedell Skates, and Red Wing Stoneware.

Notable people

  • Eugenie Anderson (1909–1997), U.S. Ambassador to Denmark and Bulgaria
  • Tams Bixby (1855–1922), Born in Red Wing, member of U.S. Dawes Commission
  • Ryan Boldt (born 1994), baseball player
  • Joseph Francis Busch (1866–1953), Roman Catholic Bishop
  • William C. Christianson (1892–1985), Minnesota Supreme Court justice
  • William J. Colvill, (1830–1905), Civil War hero and Minnesota Attorney General
  • Frances Densmore (1867–1957), ethnographer and ethnomusicologist
  • Joanell Dyrstad (born 1942), former Minnesota lieutenant governor (1991–1995)
  • Patrick Flueger (born 1983), actor
  • Mikkjel Hemmestveit (1863–1957), skiing champion
  • Torjus Hemmestveit (1860–1930), skiing champion
  • Stanley E. Hubbard (1897–1992), founder of Hubbard Broadcasting
  • Philander P. Humphrey (1823–1862), physician, politician
  • Ned Locke (1919–1992), television personality, Bozo's Circus
  • Martin Maginnis (1841–1919), politician, Union Army veteran
  • Lyle Mehrkens (1937–2018), Minnesota state legislator and farmer
  • Greg Norton (born 1959), bassist for Hüsker Dü and restaurateur
  • Henrietta Barclay Paist (1870–1930), artist, designer, teacher, and author
  • Robert Ezra Park (1864–1944), urban sociologist
  • Mitchell Peters (1935–2017), percussionist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
  • John Pohl (born 1979), player in NHL, Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Trapper Schoepp (born 1990), musician
  • James Touchi-Peters (born 1956), symphonic conductor, composer and jazz singer
  • Theodore Swanson (1873–1959), farmer, Wisconsin legislator
  • August Weenaas (1835–1924), founding President of Augsburg University
  • Jacqueline West (born 1979), poet and author of The Books of Elsewhere
  • Phyllis Yes (born 1941), feminist artist

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See also

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