Stearns County (pop. 150,642) is on the west side of the Mississippi River, just across from Benton County. It is shaped something like Nebraska.
The county seat, St. Cloud (pop. 65,842), is the eighth-largest city in Minnesota. The St. Cloud Metropolitan Area (pop. 189,093) is the third-largest metropolitan area in the state, after Minneapolis and Duluth.
St. Cloud State University, with more than 17,000 students, is the second-largest university in Minnesota.
The Paramount Theatre (1921) in St. Cloud hosts a variety of concerts and special events.
The Amtrak “Empire Builder” train stops at St. Cloud’s former Northern Pacific Railway station. The train goes east to Minneapolis and Chicago and west to Seattle and Portland.
The town of Sauk Centre (pop. 4,317), in western Stearns County, was the hometown of author Sinclair Lewis and the setting of his famous 1920 novel “Main Street.”
The sports teams at Sauk Centre High School are known as the “Mainstreeters.”
Stearns County was settled largely by German Catholic immigrants; in addition to St. Cloud, the county has towns named St. Anthony, St. Augusta, St. Joseph, St. Martin, St. Rosa, and St. Stephen.
The College of St. Benedict (for women) and St. John’s University (for men) are partnered liberal arts colleges in the towns of St. Joseph and Collegeville, respectively, about three miles apart.
The town of Avon (pop. 1,396), located on Upper Spunk, Middle Spunk, and Lower Spunk lakes, has an annual event called Spunktacular Days.
NEXT: POPE COUNTY