Minnesota: Steele County

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).

The Steele County Courthouse (1891) in Owatonna

Interstate 35 – which goes 1,568 miles from Duluth to Laredo, Texas – runs north-south through the middle of Steele County.

It also goes through Ames, Iowa.

The 56-mile Straight River runs through the county seat of Owatonna (pop. 25,599).

It’s actually somewhat windy.

Louis Sullivan’s National Farmers’ Bank (1908) in Owatonna is an outstanding example of Prairie School architecture.

Now a Wells Fargo bank

The Steele County Free Fair, held every August in Owatonna, bills itself as the largest county fair and the largest free fair in Minnesota.

More than 300,000 people attended in 2012.

Federal Mutual Insurance Company, founded in Owatonna in 1900, is still headquartered there.

It has about 1,500 employees.

Actor E.G. Marshall (1914-1998) was born in Owatonna and attended Carleton College and the University of Minnesota.

With Robert Reed in “The Defenders” (1961-65)

Medford (pop. 1,239), on I-35, claims to be the second-smallest city in the U.S. with a McDonald’s restaurant.

Medford Outlet Center


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2 comments on “Minnesota: Steele County

  1. Mary Schlick says:

    The Federal Mutual Insurance Company building is one more handsome Minnesota building. The state must have had a love for architecture. Or have I lived in the woods too long and have forgotten that the country is full of such treasures?

    • Kathy Kasten says:

      Oh Mary, you should get out more. Two other beautiful buildings in Rice County that didn’t get mentioned both located in Faribault: The Congregational Church with its beautiful architectural style, its Tiffany stained glass window and a bell hauled in from the east coast. The other building worth seeing is the Rice County Courthouse built in the Art Deco style. Not my preference but it is a pure building that I can appreciate for its consistency.

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