Cottonwood County (pop. 11,687), west of Watonwan County, was named for the Cottonwood River, which was named for the trees along its banks.
The northeastern part of the county is drained by the Cottonwood River, which flows into the Minnesota River and then the Mississippi; the southwestern part of the county is drained by the Des Moines River, which joins the Mississippi at Keokuk, Iowa.
The county seat is Windom (pop. 4,646).
The Des Moines River runs through Windom; the river is popular for canoeing and kayaking.
Near the town of Jeffers (pop. 369) is the Jeffers Petroglyphs Historic Site, with more than 2,000 images made by Native Americans over thousands of years on a large rock outcrop.
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