Minnesota: Stearns County

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.

With a big river on the right, but more lakes

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.

Stearns County Courthouse, as seen in “The Mighty Ducks” (1992)

St. Cloud State University, with more than 17,000 students, is the second-largest university in Minnesota.

On the banks of the Mississippi

The Paramount Theatre (1921) in St. Cloud hosts a variety of concerts and special events.

Restored after a fire in 1985

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.

Built in 1898

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.”

It was called Gopher Prairie in the book.

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.

St. Mary’s in Melrose, one of about 50 Catholic churches in the county

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.

Saint John’s, alma mater of Sen. Eugene McCarthy

The town of Avon (pop. 1,396), located on Upper Spunk, Middle Spunk, and Lower Spunk lakes, has an annual event called Spunktacular Days.

The early settlers used “spunk” to start a fire.

NEXT: POPE COUNTY

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4 comments on “Minnesota: Stearns County

  1. Joan says:

    Main Street Drug shown in the above postcard now has a wonderful antique and gift shop. It also has a couple of wonderful parks located next to a lake and river with a waterfall just down from the Antique store.

  2. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Love the premise of this Blog! Stearns County includes my College town, St. Cloud! Thanks for the post!

  3. John Dodds says:

    This county seems like a very “clean” place to be from (or at least to go to college in).

  4. Lois says:

    I remember that St. Cloud Amtrak station from my trip on the Empire Builder!

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