Washington County is a county in the U.S. state of Minnesota. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 238,136, making it the fifth-most populous county in Minnesota. Its county seat is Stillwater. The largest city in the county is Woodbury, which had a population of 61,961 at the 2010 census.

Washington County Homes For Sale

History

Early development in the area was on the St. Croix River, which now forms the boundary with Wisconsin on the county’s eastern side. The river provided a waterway to move settlers upstream and to transport logs downstream. The heavily forested area fostered an early logging and lumber economy. The area’s first settlers arrived at the future Afton in 1837. In 1838 settlers started Dacotah, at the north edge of present Stillwater, at the junction of Brown’s Creek and the St. Croix. The creek’s name is from the founder of this settlement, Joseph Renshaw Brown. However, a sawmill was built at Marine-on-St.-Croix in 1839, and another was built in the current location of downtown Stillwater in 1844. The success of these soon attracted the settlers from Dacotah, and that community declined.

This area was part of Wisconsin Territory until the eastern part of that territory achieved statehood in 1848. Brown and other leaders called a meeting (the “Stillwater Convention”) on August 26, 1848. The convention drafted a Memorial to Congress that a new territory be created with the name “Minnesota,” and elected Henry Hastings Sibley to deliver this citizens’ petition to the U.S. Congress. Because of this convention, Stillwater calls itself the “Birthplace of Minnesota.” Congress responded by creating Minnesota Territory effective 3 March 1859.

The newly established territorial legislature created nine counties across the territory in October 1849. Washington County was one of the nine, named for George Washington, with Stillwater named as county seat. The county’s first sheriff was appointed in 1849, and the county’s school district began in 1850.

After the forests were depleted, the economy of Washington County became primarily agricultural. With the growth of neighboring Ramsey County and St. Paul, some of Washington County developed based on tourism and recreation, as with Mahtomedi and Landfall. Late in the 20th century, the population greatly increased with the suburban expansion of St. Paul.

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