Steele County (pop. 36,576), just west of Dodge County, was named for Franklin Steele (1813-1880). America’s only other Steele County, in North Dakota, was named for Edward Steele (1846-1899).
Interstate 35 – which goes 1,568 miles from Duluth to Laredo, Texas – runs north-south through the middle of Steele County.
The 56-mile Straight River runs through the county seat of Owatonna (pop. 25,599).
Louis Sullivan’s National Farmers’ Bank (1908) in Owatonna is an outstanding example of Prairie School architecture.
The Steele County Free Fair, held every August in Owatonna, bills itself as the largest county fair and the largest free fair in Minnesota.
Federal Mutual Insurance Company, founded in Owatonna in 1900, is still headquartered there.
Actor E.G. Marshall (1914-1998) was born in Owatonna and attended Carleton College and the University of Minnesota.
Medford (pop. 1,239), on I-35, claims to be the second-smallest city in the U.S. with a McDonald’s restaurant.
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