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Olivia, Minnesota is the county seat of Renville County. The main routes through the city are US Highways 71 and 212. Concentrated just east of the intersection of Highways 71 and 212, the city’s borders have extended in a strip around Highway 71 to the west. Danube is west of Olivia, while Bird Island is to the east. These are Olivia’s closest neighbors. Willmar is about twenty-five miles north of Olivia. The small city of Olivia is largely agricultural yet today. In 1878, there was a small prairie settlement there, which was incorporated as a village in 1881. Olivia was named by Albert B. Rogers, a civil engineer employed by the Milwaukee Railroad, who was responsible for naming the towns established along the railroad line. In the case of Olivia, the town was named for the first station agent placed in Ortonville, whose name was Olive. The village of Olivia was chosen as the county seat in 1894 by election but the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the election on appeal, returning the seat to Beaver Falls. A 1900 election again gave the designation to Olivia, after which four Olivia residents took the county records from Beaver Falls in the middle of the night, bringing them to Olivia. They were jailed, and the records were returned to Beaver Falls, but the 1900 election results were upheld in 1901, and Olivia has been the seat of government for the county since. Still rural, agriculture is a significant part of the area’s economy. Olivia is home to nine seed research companies, two seed production companies, an edible bean plant, a worldwide corn broker, and other industries related to agriculture, Olivia was recognized by the state legislature as the Corn Capital of the World. In 1973, a large corn statue was erected at Memorial Park to commemorate the fact that modern hybrid seed corn production began in Olivia. Never a large city, Olivia’s peak population year was in 1980, when its population was 2,802.

 

 

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