South St. Paul was established in 1887, having removed
itself from West St. Paul when the stockyards was established. In
the Twentieth Century it became the most ethnically diverse
community with immigrants from the Balkans and Eastern Europe
coming to work in the packing plants.
West St. Paul was named for its
location relative to St. Paul from the Mississippi River. The city
began the Twentieth Century as a quiet, truck garden community but
rapidly became a first-ring suburb of St. Paul and
Lilydale, on the northern edge of
Dakota County and named for the lilies that bloomed in Pickerel
Lake, witnessed numerous floods during the Twentieth
Mendota, at the intersection of the
Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, is named for the Dakota word for
the meeting of the waters. The county's second seat of government,
the village retains is historic character with National Register
sites such as the Sibley Historic Site and the Mendota Historic
Mendota Heights was originally
Mendota Township. The town became the home of a number of prominent St.
Paul business people early in the Twentieth Century. The township was
incorporated as the Village of Mendota Heights in 1956 and became a city
Inver Grove Heights
Inver Grove was established in 1858. The village
of Inver Grove, established in 1909, became Inver Grove Heights and
merged with the township in 1965. Inver Grove Heights retains many of
its farms despite continuing development.
Eagan was carved out of Mendota Township in 1860 and
named for Patrick Eagan. A site of early post-Second World War
development, Eagan's 2000 population was the highest in Dakota
County, largely in part due to the construction of Interstates 494
Burnsville, the second largest city in the County,
was named after William Byrne, an early settler. Byrnesville was often
misspelled as “Burns” which later prevailed in township
records. Crystal Lake and Buck Hill are acclaimed natural features of
Apple Valley -- When Orrin Thompson began building
houses in Lebanon Township in the 1960s he named the original
development "Apple Valley" after a town of the same name in
Lebanon, originally named for an Ohio town, was a quiet
agricultural community until the 1960s. When Orrin Thompson began
his series of subdivisions, the new residents of the township voted
to change the name of the township to Apple Valley.
By the end of the Twentieth Century, this quiet farming
community had been transformed into a bustling city of 45,527
Rosemount was named for Rosemount, Ireland by the early
Irish settlers. During the Second World War, the Gopher Ordnance
Works plant had a significant impact on the community, claiming
11,000 acres of prime farmland. After the war, the Gopher plant
became the University of Minnesota Agricultural Research
Nininger was named for one of its
earliest promoters, John Nininger, brother-in-law to Territorial
Governor Alexander Ramsey. Intended to a great metropolis, it fell
victim in part to the Panic of 1857. During the Twentieth Century,
the town remained largely agricultural.
Hastings, the county seat since 1857, is the
middle name of Henry Sibley, the first governor of the State of Minnesota
and a resident of Mendota. The expanding community has annexed portions
of Marshan and Nininger Townships.
Ravenna, also named for an Ohio town, was established
in 1860 out of parts of Marshan and Hastings townships. The settlement
at Etter was removed in the 1980s after being continually flooded by
the Mississippi River.
Marshan was named for Michael Marsh, an early settler.
The township is largely agricultural and is the home of
Bailly’s Vineyard. Hastings has annexed portions of the
northern part of the township.
Vermillion Township was named for the Vermillion
River. The township and village were settled by immigrants from Germany
Coates was created in the 1950s out
of pieces of Empire, Rosemount and Vermillion and named for
businessman George Coates.
Empire, named for New York, the Empire State,
was settled by Old Stock Americans. Portions of the township nearest
to Farmington experienced rapid development at the end of the century.
Farmington, founded in 1854
and first mentioned in 1856 as “a village of farms,” was named
for its ideal farming location. It was at the beginning of the Twentieth
Century, the second largest community in the County. At the end of the
century, the city of 12,000 retains its historic downtown and neighborhood
Lakeville Township, organized in 1858 and Lakeville
Village, organized in 1878, were named for their proximity to
Prairie Lake, one of the largest lakes in Dakota County. Marion
Savage changed the name of the lake to Lake Marion and established
Antlers Park, a gathering place for county residents for much of
the Twentieth Century.
Eureka was named, legend has it, for the exclamation
"Eureka" when the earliest settlers arrived. Settled by migrants
from Indiana and immigrants from Norway, its gentle landscape has
been home to nurseries, including Bachman’s, since the
Castle Rock was named for the
distinctive sandstone outcropping, called Inyan Bosdata by the
Dakota people. Little of the rock remains. Two of the
township’s high hills were the setting of the Nike missile
and radar site during the Cold War. In 2000 it remains largely
Hampton was named by Nathaniel
Martin, an early settler, after his hometown of Hampton, Connecticut.
The agrarian community witnessed rapid growth at the end of the Twentieth
New Trier named for Trier, Germany,
was settled primarily by immigrants from Germany and Luxembourg in
Miesville was named for the John Mies family. It
is the home of the Miesville Mudhens baseball team and the County’s
newest park, the Miesville Ravine.
Douglas Township was named for
Senator Stephen A. Douglas, a popular statesman. The township
remains largely agricultural. Miesville is its exclusive
Greenvale, according to
Warren Uphams Minnesota Geographic Names, was named for a local Sunday
school. It is one of the most picturesque townships in the County. Southernmost
portions of the township have been annexed by neighboring Northfield in
Waterford was named for a ford across
the Cannon River. It is one of the smallest townships in the
Randolph is one of the County’s fastest growing
communities and was originally named Richmond, but the name was
changed since there was already a Richmond in
Sciota, named for Sciota, Ohio, is one of the
southern-most townships in Dakota County. The Cannon River meanders
through the township, which is largely agricultural.
Sunfish Lake, named for the
lake of the same name in Inver Grove, was incorporated in 1958.
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Most of the towns and cities in Dakota County today were founded
in the 1850s and officially organized in 1858. The profiles on this
map detail how each town or city was named and significant 20th
century events affecting it.