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Situated in southeastern Minnesota, the city of Austin is in Mower County, for which it serves as the county seat. The first settlers in the area were trappers who came in the 1850s, settling along the Cedar River. By 1856, there were enough residents to organize a county and, in that year also, the town took on the name of Austin, for Austin Nichols, who built the first log cabin there in 1853. The town’s first industries were mills powered by the Cedar River, supplying flour and lumber for the developing village. When the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad came through in the late 1860s, the town began to grow rapidly. In 1891, George A. Hormel opened a family butcher shop in Austin, which eventually grew into Hormel Foods, a Fortune 500 company, still headquartered in Austin. The city’s first college, Southern Minnesota Normal College, was established in 1897, and operated until 1925. Austin Junior College opened in 1940, becoming part of the State College and University System in 1964, currently known as Riverland Community College. Nearby communities include Adams, Brownsdale, Corning, Dexter, Elkton, Glenville, Hayward, Hollandale, Lansing, Mapleview, Mayville, Moscow, Myrtle, Oakland, Renova, Rose Creek, and Varco. Rochester, Minnesota is about forty miles northeast, and Owatonna is about forty-eight miles northwest of Austin.

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