Historical Markers in
Wilkin County, Minnesota

Minnesota was the first state to offer voter registration on the day of an election in 1974.

Wilkin County, located in the western part of Minnesota, has a rich history dating back to the early 19th century. The area was initially inhabited by indigenous Dakota Sioux people, who relied on hunting, fishing, and gathering for sustenance. In the late 1700s, fur traders from Europe began to explore and settle in the region.

In the mid-1800s, the United States government established treaties with the Dakota Sioux, leading to the forced removal of these indigenous people to reservation lands further west. This paved the way for European settlement in the area that would become Wilkin County. In 1858, Minnesota achieved statehood, and the county was officially organized in 1871, named after Colonel Alexander Wilkin, a prominent figure in the state's early history.

Agriculture played a vital role in the county's development. Early settlers, mainly from Germany and Scandinavia, cleared the land and established farms. They grew grain crops such as wheat, oats, and barley, as well as raised livestock for dairy and meat production. The construction of railroads in the late 1800s and early 1900s further facilitated the transport of agricultural goods to larger markets.

In the 20th century, Wilkin County faced the challenges of the Great Depression and the decline of small-scale farming. However, efforts were made to diversify the local economy. The establishment of manufacturing industries, as well as the exploitation of mineral resources such as clay and gravel, brought new opportunities for growth. Today, Wilkin County continues to be an agricultural region, with a focus on corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and livestock. The county also boasts beautiful natural scenery, including the Buffalo River State Park, attracting visitors and outdoor enthusiasts.

  • 1872: Wilkin County was established on March 6.
  • 1880: The county's population was recorded at 2,521.
  • 1890: The population increased to 5,909.
  • 1916: The county courthouse was built in Breckenridge.
  • 1930: The population reached its peak at 9,503.
  • 1953: A new courthouse was constructed in Breckenridge.
  • 1977: The county celebrated its centennial anniversary.
  • 1998: The new Wilkin County Government Center was opened.
  • 2019: Wilkin County's estimated population was 6,418.