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Stillwater, Minnesota facts for kids

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The waterfront of Stillwater on the St. Croix River
The waterfront of Stillwater on the St. Croix River
Official seal of Stillwater
The Birthplace of Minnesota
Location of the city of Stillwaterwithin Washington County, Minnesota
Location of the city of Stillwater
within Washington County, Minnesota
Stillwater, Minnesota is located in the United States
Stillwater, Minnesota
Stillwater, Minnesota
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Washington
Incorporated March 4, 1854
 • Total 9.08 sq mi (23.51 km2)
 • Land 8.05 sq mi (20.85 km2)
 • Water 1.03 sq mi (2.66 km2)
696 ft (212 m)
 • Total 18,225
 • Estimate 
 • Density 2,438.44/sq mi (941.51/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP Codes
55082, 55083
Area code(s) 651
FIPS code 27-62824
GNIS feature ID 0652642

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).


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). The city was named for the calm waters of the St. Croix River.

Stillwater, MN c1860s
Stillwater c. 1860s
Stillwater, MN Veterans' Memorial
Across the street from the Courthouse, the Veterans' Memorial for local veterans

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 chose to be the site of the territory's first prison, primarily because of the access to free prisoner labor it would provide. The Minnesota Territorial Prison was opened in 1853. The prison held Cole Younger and Jim Younger, two 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.

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.

Stillwater today

Stillwater is a popular day trip for tourists from the Twin Cities, who enjoy the historic downtown's used bookstores, antique shops, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, historical sites and the scenic St. Croix River valley.

New housing development

In recent decades, there has been a good deal of new housing development on the city's outskirts, and a substantial population commutes daily to the Twin Cities. More recently, development has focused on medium-density housing, such as condominium complexes, on the north side of downtown.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 2,380
1870 4,124 73.3%
1880 9,055 119.6%
1890 11,260 24.4%
1900 12,818 13.8%
1910 10,198 −20.4%
1920 7,735 −24.2%
1930 7,173 −7.3%
1940 7,013 −2.2%
1950 7,674 9.4%
1960 8,310 8.3%
1970 10,191 22.6%
1980 12,290 20.6%
1990 13,882 13.0%
2000 15,143 9.1%
2010 18,225 20.4%
2019 (est.) 19,627 7.7%
U.S. Decennial Census

Historic census data

  • 1870: The racial makeup of the city was: 4106 White, 18 Colored, 0 Chinese and Japanese, and 1 Indians.
  • 1880: The racial makeup of the city was: 9020 White, 22 Colored, 2 Chinese and Japanese, and 2 Indians.
  • 1890: The racial makeup of the city was: 11209 White, 50 Colored, 0 Chinese, 0 Japanese, and 1 Civilized Indians.
  • 1910: The "color and nativity" makeup of the city was: 2447 Native White-Native parentage, 4916 Native White-Foreign or mixed parentage, 2774 Foreign-born white, 56 Negro and 6 Indian, Chinese, and Japanese.
  • 1920: The "color and nativity" makeup of the city was: 2384 Native White-Native parentage, 3683 Native White-Foreign or mixed parentage, 1664 Foreign-born white, 4 Negro and 0 Indian, Chinese, and Japanese.
  • 1940: The racial makeup for the city was 7012 White, 0 Negro and 1 Other race.
  • 1950: The racial makeup for the city was 99.9% white and 0.1% non-white
  • 1960: The racial makeup for the city was 99.9% white and 0.1% non-white
  • 1970: The racial makeup for the city was 10159 white, 1 Negro, 12 Indian, 3 Japanese, 0 Chinese, 6 Filipino, and 6 All Other Races

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 18,225 people, 7,075 households, and 4,885 families living in the city. The population density was 2,618.5 inhabitants per square mile (1,011.0/km2). There were 7,576 housing units at an average density of 1,088.5 per square mile (420.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.1% White, 1.0% African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.6% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.9% of the population.

There were 7,075 households, of which 35.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.3% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 31.0% were non-families. 25.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 3.03.

The median age in the city was 40 years. 26.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 6.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.3% were from 25 to 44; 29% were from 45 to 64; and 12.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.5% male and 51.5% female.



Stillwater has a mix of public district, public charter, and private schools at the primary and secondary levels. The city is served by the Stillwater Area Public Schools system and the nearest high school is Stillwater Area High School in Oak Park Heights, Minnesota.

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
  • Todd Kalis, NFL guard, born in Stillwater
  • Jessica Lange, actress, resided in Stillwater
  • Frankie Lee, musician, born in Stillwater
  • Chris Maddock, stand-up comedian
  • 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
  • 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 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
  • Butch Thompson, jazz pianist and clarinetist, went to high school in Stillwater
  • Thomas Vanek, retired NHL winger for Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild and others, resides in Stillwater

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