Hugo, Minnesota

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Hugo (pronounced /ˈhjuːɡoʊ/) is a commuter town 14 miles (23 km) north of downtown Saint Paul in Washington County in the U.S. state of Minnesota . The city lies north of White Bear Lake on the border of the metropolitan boundary. Hugo and nearby suburbs comprise the northeast portion of Minneapolis-St. Paul, the sixteenth largest metropolitan area in the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau recorded the population of the City of Hugo at 6,363 people in 2000. The Metropolitan Council estimate for 2006 was 10,361,[1] and the Census Bureau estimated for 2008 was 13,139.[5]

Originally settled by French and French Canadians, the township was originally named Oneka, later Centerville Station, and finally Hugo around 1906, which officially incorporated as a city in 1972. Hugo early on established itself as a refueling station for the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad (later the Northern Pacific Railway).[6] Later, the town associated more closely with the services and businesses of the larger City of Centerville to the east, but after the turn of the century Hugo had absorbed significant suburban growth and development, becoming a boom town.

The city's largest lake, Oneka Lake, is named for the Dakota word "onakan," which means "to strike or knock off," rice into a canoe. Just south is Rice Lake where Mdewakanton Dakota from Mendota gathered wild rice. The origin of the name Hugo is not exactly known but is consistent with the town's French history. The Washington County Historical Society suggests it was for French author Victor Hugo, or more likely named after Trevanion William Hugo, who was chief engineer of the Consolidated Elevator Company in Duluth and former Duluth mayor, who likely had ties to the railroad.



The first explorers in the area were likely the Dakota tribes who had moved into the present-day Twin Cities area. Though they did not permanent settle, they were known to frequent the two large swampy lakes (now Oneka Lake and Rice Lake) which were abundant in wild rice.

In 1850, French immigrants and French Canadians became the first permanent settlers when the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad established a station which was called Centerville Station since it bypassed the already established city of Centerville.

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