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Foley, Minnesota is the county seat of Benton County. The city's history goes back to the lumber barons of the late 1800s, and particularly the four Foley brothers who came from Ontario, Canada in the latter part of the century. Michael Foley came first, arriving in 1870, then persuading his brothers, Thomas, Timothy and John to join him in the lumber business. Purchasing eight acres of land in Gilmanton Township, the Foleys established a logging camp and steam sawmill at the site of the current town, as well as other camps throughout the county. They contracted with the Great Northern Railroad to cut the white oak trees in the surrounding area into timber for the railroad, providing high-grade lumber for bridge timbers and frames for railway cars, while second-grade oak was used for railway ties. The town developed as lumber and railroad workers, business people, and other moved to the camp to work or to set up shop. By 1898, the town was platted, and a hotel and stores were soon opened, followed shortly by a bank, newspaper, drug store, livery stable, meat market, machinery dealer, cafes, and saloons. Before long, however, the supplies of big timber was depleted, but there were still enough trees to cut into other wood products that were in demand. Three mills were established north of the railroad tracks, known as the Wood and Stave Mills and Heading Mills. Foley was incorporated as a village in 1900, becoming the county seat in 1901. In time, the forests and woodlands were replaced by farms, primarily dairy farms. Although the city's population remains under three thousand, its population has risen every census year since 1900, with the exception of 1930, when it decreased by 4.7%. Along Minnesota Highway 23, Foley is northeast of Parent and southwest of Ronneby. St. Cloud is about fifteen miles southwest of Foley.

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