The city of St. Cloud, Minnesota is celebrating its 168th birthday today, March 1st. The city was incorporated on this day in 1856.

According to Wikipedia, the St. Cloud area was opened to homesteading following the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux in 1851. A Maine native with French ancestry named John L. Wilson named the city after Saint-Cloud near Paris, France.

St. Cloud was a key waystation on the Red River Trail, which was used by traders between North Dakota and St. Paul. Fur traders would typically camp in the area and cross the Mississippi in St. Cloud.

When the city was incorporated in 1856 there were three separate settlements called Upper Town, Lower Town and Middle Town.

Middle Town was populated by German Catholic immigrants, Lower town was settled by New Englanders and Upper town was plotted by a Kentucky slave trader.

Eich Motor 1929 (photo courtesy of the Stearns History Museum)
Eich Motor 1929 (photo courtesy of the Stearns History Museum)

According to the Wikipedia history of St. Cloud, nearly all southerners left the state, along with their slaves, at the outbreak of the Civil War.


St. Cloud State University was founded as Third State Normal School in 1869. In 1921 the school changed its name to St. Cloud State Teachers College before becoming a university in 1975.

The population of St. Cloud was 2,161 in 1870. It jumped up from 10,600 in 1910 to 21,000 in 1930 and went from 28,000 in 1950 to nearly 40,000 in 1970.

The current estimated population of St. Cloud sits at 69,568. The city's top employers include CentraCare, St. Cloud State University and the VA Health Care System.

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