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Swift County, Minnesota facts for kids

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Swift County
Swift County Courthouse, Benson
Map of Minnesota highlighting Swift County
Location within the U.S. state of Minnesota
Map of the United States highlighting Minnesota
Minnesota's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Minnesota
Founded February 18, 1870
Named for Henry Adoniram Swift
Seat Benson
Largest city Benson
 • Total 752 sq mi (1,950 km2)
 • Land 742 sq mi (1,920 km2)
 • Water 8.82 sq mi (22.8 km2)  1.3%%
 • Total 9,838
 • Estimate 
9,749 Decrease
 • Density 13.3/sq mi (5.1/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 7th

Swift County is a county in the U.S. state of Minnesota. As of the 2020 census, the population was 9,838. Its county seat is Benson.


Swift County was established February 18, 1870. This county was named after Henry Adoniram Swift, the governor of Minnesota in 1863. It is located in the west central part of Minnesota and consists of 757 square miles (2,000 km2) with 3 tiers of 7 townships each. The Swift County Courthouse was built in 1897 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The City of Benson is the County seat of Swift County. The railroad tracks run through the center of the town of Benson and divide the downtown business districts with parks on each side of the tracks.

The Indians had grievances against the government including delays in sending annuities which caused near starvation several times. In August, 1862, an Indian rebellion broke out in Minnesota. The warfare reached the settlements just getting started in the northeastern part of Swift County. By the latter part of September, 1862, the Indian War was almost over but the settlers hesitated to venture back to the prairie country of Swift County until 1865 when all danger was apparently over. Scandinavians and Germans were in decided majority among the early settlers. A number of them came with the honor and privileges of Civil War veterans.

In 1869, the St. Paul & Pacific Railroad had reached Willmar and the following year it arrived in Benson. The railroad company determined the number of future trading centers (Kerkhoven, DeGraff, Benson, Randall) in the county by locating sites at intervals of approximately 8 miles (13 km).

Historic buildings

Historical building in Swift County include:


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 752 square miles (1,950 km2), of which 742 square miles (1,920 km2) is land and 10 square miles (26 km2) (1.3%) is water.

Swift County is primarily an agriculture community. It is a vast, flat monotonous stretch of land, unbroken by trees. The following example shows savanna and prairie soils: Besides farming, the county is home to agriculture equipment manufacturers, an ethanol plant, and the Fibrominn Combined Heat & Power (CHP) Plant which burns turkey litter mixed-with wood chips and mulch.

Swift County is home to a total of 24 lakes. Lake Oliver is one of the biggest in the county at 416 acres (1.7 km2). The lakes in Swift County are great for fishing. There are 9 rivers and streams in this county.

Major highways

  • US 12.svg U.S. Highway 12
  • US 59.svg U.S. Highway 59
  • MN-7.svg Minnesota State Highway 7
  • MN-9.svg Minnesota State Highway 9
  • MN-29.svg Minnesota State Highway 29
  • MN-104.svg Minnesota State Highway 104
  • MN-119.svg Minnesota State Highway 119

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 7,473
1890 10,161 36.0%
1900 13,503 32.9%
1910 12,949 −4.1%
1920 15,093 16.6%
1930 14,735 −2.4%
1940 15,469 5.0%
1950 15,837 2.4%
1960 14,936 −5.7%
1970 13,177 −11.8%
1980 12,920 −2.0%
1990 10,724 −17.0%
2000 11,956 11.5%
2010 9,783 −18.2%
2015 (est.) 9,340 −4.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2015

As of the census of 2000, there were 11,956 people, 4,353 households, and 2,881 families residing in the county. The population density was 16 people per square mile (6/km²). There were 4,821 housing units at an average density of 6 per square mile (2/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 90.67% White, 2.69% Black or African American, 0.50% Native American, 1.43% Asian, 1.52% Pacific Islander, 1.40% from other races, and 1.79% from two or more races. 2.68% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Swift County has the highest percentage of Pacific Islander natives out of any U.S. county outside Hawaii. 34.4% were of German, 30.5% Norwegian, 5.2% Swedish and 5.1% Irish ancestry.

There were 4,353 households out of which 30.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.90% were married couples living together, 6.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.80% were non-families. 30.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 3.00.

USA Swift County, Minnesota age pyramid
Age pyramid of county residents based on 2000 U.S. census data

In the county, the population was spread out with 23.00% under the age of 18, 7.30% from 18 to 24, 29.60% from 25 to 44, 21.60% from 45 to 64, and 18.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 120.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 124.60 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $34,820, and the median income for a family was $44,208. Males had a median income of $29,362 versus $21,667 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,360. About 5.30% of families and 8.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.90% of those under age 18 and 13.80% of those age 65 or over.




  • Appleton Township
  • Benson Township
  • Camp Lake Township
  • Cashel Township
  • Clontarf Township
  • Dublin Township
  • Edison Township
  • Fairfield Township
  • Hayes Township
  • Hegbert Township
  • Kerkhoven Township
  • Kildare Township
  • Marysland Township
  • Moyer Township
  • Pillsbury Township
  • Shible Township
  • Six Mile Grove Township
  • Swenoda Township
  • Tara Township
  • Torning Township
  • West Bank Township

Unincorporated communities

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