Owatonna, Minnesota

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Owatonna, Minnesota
Downtown Owatonna
Downtown Owatonna
Nickname(s): O-Town
Location of Owatonnawithin Steele County and state of Minnesota
Location of Owatonna
within Steele County and state of Minnesota
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Steele
Incorporated as town August 9, 1858
Named for Straight River
 • Type City council
 • Mayor Tom Kuntz
 • Total 14.62 sq mi (37.87 km2)
 • Land 14.53 sq mi (37.63 km2)
 • Water 0.09 sq mi (0.23 km2)
Elevation 1,152 ft (351 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 25,599
 • Estimate (2014)[3] 25,625
 • Density 1,761.8/sq mi (680.2/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 55060
Area code(s) 507
FIPS code 27-49300
GNIS feature ID 0649095[4]
Website City of Owatonna

Owatonna (pronounced Owa-ton-nuh) is a city in Steele County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 25,599 at the 2010 census.[5] It is the county seat of Steele County. Owatonna is home to the Steele County Fairgrounds, which hosts the Steele County Free Fair in August.

Interstate 35 and U.S. Highways 14, and 218 are three of the main routes in the city.


Mineral Springs Park, Owatonna, MN

Owatonna was first settled in 1853 around the Straight River. The community was named after the Straight River,[6] which in the Dakota language is Wakpá Owóthaŋna. The earliest the Owatonna area was settled was in 1854 and platted in September 1855, but it was incorporated as a town August 9, 1858, then as a city on February 23, 1865.[6]

In 1856, Josef Karel Kaplan emigrated from a village southwest of Prague Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) and selected a quarter section (160 acres (65 ha)) of land near the town of Owatonna. Kaplan described Owatonna as having just 50 small homes, but predicted 100 within a year, along with a railroad. With just four stores and a pharmacy, Owatonna quickly prospered and grew to 1500 inhabitants in just 5 years. Kaplan wrote about the Owatonna area in letters donated to the Minnesota Historical Society. In them he described often seeing Indians – people with "tough constitutions...brown skin and good dispositions", explaining: "When you read about battles between whites and Indians, it is the whites who are to blame." In 1866, Kaplan helped organize the Catholic Cemetery, and a year later, the National Bohemian Cemetery of Owatonna[7]

Kaplan's Woods is part of the land originally owned by Josef Kaplan, and later Victor and Anna Kaplan. The State of Minnesota created{ Kaplan's Wood State Park, which was later transferred to the City of Owatonna.[8] The Kaplan's Woods Parkway contains over 6 miles (10 km) of hiking and cross country skiing trails, and nearly 2 miles (3 km) of hard—surfaced, handicapped—accessible trail. The parkway includes Lake Kohlmier, a 35-acre (14 ha) lake. Maps of the parkway are available at the Park and Recreation office.[9]

The Minnesota State School for Dependent and Neglected Children was built in 1886. The school took in orphans from around the state and taught them "the value of drill, discipline, and labor". The children who died in the institution were interred in the graveyard behind the school. In 1945, the orphanage was closed and in 1947 the State Public School was officially abolished and all its lands, buildings, property, and funds were transferred to the newly established the Owatonna State School,[10] which provided academic and vocational training for the mentally handicapped. The Owatonna State School was closed June 30, 1970.[11] In 1974, the City purchased the compound for its office space. Renamed "West Hills", it continues to serve as the city's administration complex and home to many nonprofit civic organizations including a senior activity center, the Owatonna Arts Center, two nonprofit day care centers, a chemical dependency halfway house, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters, among others.[citation needed]

In 1995, the film Angus (1995), whose cast included Ariana Richards and James Van Der Beek, was filmed on location in Owatonna, mostly at Owatonna Senior High School.[12]

In July 2008, a Raytheon Hawker 800 corporate jet crashed near Owatonna, resulting in eight deaths.[13]

On October 31st, 2010 Owl City's Adam Young held a hometown concert in the Owatonna Senior High School gym. [14]

On November 3rd, 2015 the Owatonna Public School District passed a bond referendum to fund school facilities inprovments focusing on deferred maintenance, safety, and Elementary school crowding. As a result the school district will get $77.9 million to repair all buildings, replace out of date equipment, update security in all 7 public school buildings, switching the use for two school buildings, and reconfigure grades from K-5, 6, 7-8, 9-12 to K-5, 6-8, 9-12. All facility changes and projects will be completed by September of 2018 [15]


Owatonna is an economic center of Southern Minnesota, with diverse industries. Federated Insurance is the largest employer with 1521 employees, followed by an expanding Viracon which has 1434 employees.[16] Both have their headquarters in Owatonna. Other large employers in the community are Bosch, Jostens, Cabela's, Truth Hardware, ISD 761, Wenger Corporation, Owatonna Clinic - Mayo Health System, and Owatonna Hospital - Allina Hospitals & Clinics.[citation needed]


Owatonna is governed by a mayor and city council.[17]

  • Mayor: Thomas A. Kuntz

City council

  • Council member at large: Les Abraham
  • Council member at large: Jeff Okerberg
  • First Ward: Nathan Dotson
  • Second Ward: Greg Schultz
  • Third Ward: Dave Burbank
  • Fourth Ward: Kevin P. Raney
  • Fifth Ward: Brent Svenby

The city is located in Minnesota's 24th District, represented by Vicki Jensen, Democrat. District 24 includes portions of Steele, Rice and Waseca and Dodge counties in the southeastern part of the state. Owatonna also lies in House District 24A, represented by State Representative John Petersburg, a Republican. He was first elected to that office in 2012, and was reelected to a second term in 2014.[18]

Owatonna is located in Minnesota's 1st congressional district, represented by Mankato educator Tim Walz, a Democrat.[19]