In 1851, the area of Carver County was opened up to settlers through the Mendota Treaty. The rivers and lake provided the best places for locals to live, as they served as arteries that allowed access to other towns.
The area of Watertown was almost entirely wooded. In 1856, a small group of settlers found an open area in the middle of the woods, and set up town. They named their small community “Rapid Waters”. This name came from the Dakota Indian name for the area. Indians from the Dakota Tribe were the only inhabitants before the Europeans. In 1858 the name changed to “Watertown” when the locals found out another town nearby had a very similar name as their own.
Within the same year of being first discovered, a road was built that went between Minneapolis and Watertown. This allowed more families access to the area because word was being spread of the town’s amazing soil. After only one year, the start-up businesses in the town went bankrupt, and everyone relied upon establishing farmland. However, it took several years for there to be enough land to farm. The locals cut down tree after tree in order to create the space they needed. Therefore, the first few years, the only way to get food in the town would be to hunt game or fish in the rivers. Soon, farmland littered the area.
The town built a small general store on the west side of the river in the spring of 1857, and a post office was also established. These were the only two businesses that were successful for the first several years of the town’s history. In 1858, Watertown’s first schoolhouse was built. It was nothing fancy, but it provided the local children with an education.
By the time of the Civil War, many men joined the Union Army. In 1862, $900 dollars were promised to any man who would enlist. However, many were not paid what they were promised at the end of their first year of service, which caused no one else in the town to volunteer thereafter.
Watertown experienced more hardship in the 1870’s, when a railroad that was supposed to pass through the city was rerouted. This was meant to be the future for the town, as they had no other way to export their goods to be sold in other areas. As a result, more businesses fell apart. The city was able to survive the challenges, and on February 26, 1877, Watertown was incorporated as an official town.
The town experienced consistent growth through the 1900’s. The city was able to finally trade when the railroad that was promised reached the city in 1915. Since then, they have been able to develop and flourish.
If you have any questions regarding the city of Watertown, Minnesota, or if you would like to sell or buy a house in the area, please feel free to visit TwinCitiesPropertyFinder.com or call 1-800-909-1953.