Stearns County, Minnesota

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Stearns County is a county located in the U.S. state of Minnesota, founded in 1855[1]. As of 2006, the population was 144,096 (133,166 in 2000). Its county seat is Saint Cloud[2]. It was named after Charles Thomas Stearns, a local politician.

Stearns County is part of the Saint Cloud Metropolitan Statistical Area.



The area that is currently defined as Stearns County was once occupied by several indigenous tribes, such as the Sioux (Dakota), Chippewa (Ojibwe) and Winnebago (Ho-chunk). The first large immigration was of German Catholics in the 1850s. Early arrivals also came from eastern states. Originally, the county was to be named Stevens County to honor Governor Isaac Ingalls Stevens who conducted an area expedition in 1853. However, due to a clerical error, the county was named Stearns after Charles Thomas Stearns who was a member of the Territorial Council. (Later, the area two counties west was named Stevens County, to compensate for this clerical error.)


According to the U.S. Census Bureau,the county has a total area of 1,390 square miles (3,600 km²), of which 1,345 square miles (3,482 km²) is land and 45 square miles (118 km²) (3.27%) is water.

Topography & Vegetation

The East border of Stearns County is the Mississippi River. The land consists of rolling hills, scenic lakes, and woodlands of a mixture of coniferous and deciduous trees. There are 166 lakes in the county of Stearns.

Major highways

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