Owatonna, Minnesota

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Owatonna is a city in Steele County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 22,434 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Steele County. Owatonna is home to the Steele County Fairgrounds, which hosts the Steele County Free Fair in August.

Interstate 35 and U.S. Routes 14, and 218 are three of the main arterial routes in the city.

Contents

History

Owatonna was first settled in 1853 around the Straight River.

In 1883, Owatonna was the site of the State Fair and soon the county established its own fair in Owatonna, the Steele County Free Fair or SCFF, the largest free fair in Minnesota.

All the attention on the area in the late 19th century caused the city administration (and a fly-by-night corporation from which the city administrators profited) to devise a tourism and bottled water scheme in which a story centered around a "Princess Owatonna" was concocted. According to the story, Princess Owatonna, daughter of Chief Wabena, fell ill. She was so ill she couldn't lift her head to drink the smallest pool of water. The chief had heard of the wonderful curative effects of water bubbling from the ground in what is now Owatonna, and decided that only their magical restorative properties could save his daughter. After being given the water by her father, Princess Owatonna was miraculously cured, lending her name and image to both the town and the newly minted bottled water company. A statue of the princess appears in Owatonna's Mineral Springs Park, next to Maple Creek, a tributary of the Straight River, and a fountain where visitors can see the springs and drink the water that saved Princess Owatonna.

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