The History of Winona, Minnesota

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In southeast Minnesota there is a fairly large city surrounded by bluffs and small towns called Winona, Minnesota. Winona is filled with a rich history and is geographically beautiful. The growth of Winona began in the early twentieth century with a strong railroad and steamboat transportation system. Both the railroad and steamboats made transportation very easy for residents and visitors. This attracted many people from the east to migrate to Winona.

Winona was also known for the countries greatest wheat production in the late nineteenth century. R. j Watkins began his company, Watkins, in Winona Minnesota creating the “money back guarantee.” 100 The distinct Winona bluffs were created by the erosion from the Mississippi river. This erosion created distinct rock formations such as the historic sugar loaf which is what sets the city apart from others. 

I had the pleasure to take a tour in the Winona national bank that has been around since the late nineteenth century. Within the bank is a large, historic vault that used to protect everyone in the towns money but now is used for safety deposit boxes. The bank has full sized African animals that were brought over by the King family, and stuffed. It is more (200) than a bank, they have stained glass from Tiffany and Company and rich history. The bank used to be an area where people would come and socialize. Current workers at the bank make it a priority to keep the history present today.

The city of Winona has two major universities as well. Both Winona State University and Saint Mary’s University are respected institutions that attract future college students from all over the world. Winona state was founded in 1858 and Saint Mary’s University was founded in 1912. Both schools have successful students and athletes. Winona has been a key part towards the success of Minnesota. Although many do not know of the city, about one hundred years ago it was about as big as Minneapolis. For a town that is now on the short end of advantage. I believe it is time to show it the respect that it deserves.


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