Historical Markers in
Pope County, Minnesota

The first successful open-heart surgery was performed in 1952 at the University of Minnesota by Dr. C. Walton Lillehei.
Pope County, located in west-central Minnesota, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. Before European settlement, the area was inhabited by Dakota and Ojibwe Native American tribes. The first Europeans arrived in the late 1700s and engaged in fur trading with the Native Americans. In the early 1800s, American settlers began to move into the region, marking the beginning of permanent settlement in what would become Pope County.

The county was established on February 20, 1862, and was named after John Pope, a Union general during the American Civil War. Agriculture played a crucial role in the early development of the county, with settlers clearing the land for farming and growing crops such as wheat, corn, and potatoes. The construction of railroads in the late 1800s further enhanced the county's agricultural productivity and facilitated transportation of goods.

Pope County experienced significant growth in the early 20th century, as more people moved to the area in search of agricultural opportunities. Towns such as Glenwood, the county seat, and Starbuck emerged as centers of commerce and services. With electricity becoming more accessible, modern conveniences such as electric lighting and appliances became prevalent in Pope County homes.

Over the years, Pope County has also been shaped by technological advancements and changing industries. The decline of small family farms and the rise of larger agribusinesses has transformed the county's agricultural landscape. Additionally, tourism and outdoor recreational activities have become important economic sectors as people are drawn to the county's natural attractions, including the pristine lakes and the rolling hills of the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge.

Today, Pope County continues to be a vibrant community that embraces its agricultural heritage while adapting to modern challenges and opportunities. It remains a place where residents and visitors can enjoy the beauty of nature, engage in outdoor activities, and appreciate the unique history of this rural Minnesota county.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Pope County, Minnesota.

  • Pope County was originally inhabited by the Dakota Sioux tribes.
  • 1837: Pope County was established by the Minnesota Territorial Legislature, named after John Pope, a military general.
  • 1858: Minnesota achieved statehood, and Pope County became an official county within the state.
  • Early 1860s: Settlers began to arrive in Pope County, primarily of Norwegian and German descent.
  • 1866: The county seat was established in Glenwood, which remains its seat to this day.
  • Late 1800s: Agriculture, particularly wheat farming, became a significant economic activity in Pope County.
  • Early 1900s: The establishment of railroads facilitated trade and transportation within the county.
  • 1930s: The Great Depression brought economic struggles to Pope County, affecting agriculture and businesses.
  • 1950s: Pope County experienced a wave of mechanization in farming, leading to increased productivity.
  • 1970s: The county's economy diversified with the growth of manufacturing and service sectors.
  • 1990s: Pope County saw a decline in population due to changes in agriculture and consolidation of farms.
  • Present: Pope County continues to be known for its scenic beauty, agricultural heritage, and recreational opportunities.