Post by ● Aug 8, 2016

City of Hastings: A Brief History

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Hastings, Minnesota is one of the oldest communities in the state of Minnesota, with its establishment dating back to 1857. The city is a true river town, situated on the Mississippi, Vermillion, and St. Croix rivers.

The first settlers to the area were a military detachment from Fort Snelling that was sent to guard a blocked shipment of supplies in 1820. Later, in 1933, a trade post was opened in an area camped out by Lieutenant William G. Oliver. The area became known as Oliver’s Grove and, after the Mendota Treaty in 1851, was incorporated as a city in 1857. In that same year, Hastings was incorporated as the county seat for Dakota County. The name was randomly selected from several other names that were placed in a hat by the city’s original founders.

From its early days of establishment, Hastings was shaped by its geographical formations. With its placement on the Mississippi, Vermillion, and St. Croix rivers, the town was the perfect destination for shipping and transportation on the waterways. Because of its deep water harbors, boats could easily unload their passengers and cargo. The nearby Vermillion Falls also helped the city to grow, providing natural water power to the river town. This allowed Hastings to grow into a premier milling hub for numerous years. The city’s surrounding farmland also attracted many new immigrants, including the area’s largest ethnic group: Germans. The farms were passed down through generations and continue to operate to this day as Century Farms.

The city also grew with the introduction of railroads to the area in the 1870’s. The first railroad was built by five civic leaders and ran from Hastings, Minnesota to Ortonville, South Dakota. It became known as the Hastings and Dakota Railway and it later joined the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad. In 1880, a new railroad was built between the two cities of Stillwater and Hastings and became known as the Stillwater & Hastings Railway. This railway carried logging and agricultural products from Stillwater to Hastings. This turned Hastings into a railroad switching hub, bringing much profit to the city.

Hastings is also known for its numerous bridges. Because of its location on the three rivers, three bridges were made to make land transportation easier. With the arrival of the railroad in the area, there became an increasing need for a railroad bridge across the rivers. Because of this, the Swing Railroad Bridge was constructed, which is one of the oldest iron railroad bridges in all of Minnesota. Perhaps the most iconic bridge was the Spiral Bridge, which laid across the Upper Mississippi. Constructed in 1895, the bridge was designed to slow down the horse-traffic entering into downtown. Because of its unique design, the Spiral Bridge became a tourist attraction before being torn down in 1951.

The second oldest county courthouse in Minnesota is in Hastings. Built in 1871 at a cost of $63,000, the courthouse later became the City Hall in 1993 and remains as such to this present day.

If you have any questions regarding the city of Hastings, Minnesota, or if you would like to sell or buy a house in the area, please feel free to visit or call 1-800-909-1953..