To reach Benton County from Todd County, you can drive east from Long Prairie on State Highway 27 through Little Falls and Morrison County (we’ve already been there), then south on State Highway 25 to Foley, the Benton County seat.
Benton County (pop. 38,451) was named for Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton – not for his painter-nephew with the same name.
Benton County is on the east side of the Mississippi River, and Stearns County is across the river on the west side. The city of St. Cloud is divided by the Mississippi, but most of it is in Stearns County.
Foley (pop. 2,603), the county seat, is not the largest city in Benton County. Sauk Rapids, adjacent to St. Cloud, is considerably larger, with 12,773 people.
The Sauk River, a 90-mile tributary of the Mississippi River, flows into the Mississippi just south of Sauk Rapids.
The Sauk Rapids Tornado on April 16, 1886, was the deadliest tornado in Minnesota history, killing 72 people in the area. Before the tornado, Sauk Rapids was one of the most important cities in the state; it never recovered that position, and St. Cloud became the largest city in the region.
The Benton Beach Disc Golf Course in the town of Rice (pop. 1,275) was the site of the 2008 Minnesota Disc Golf Championship.
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