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Situated along the Middle Fork of the Zumbro River in Olmsted County, Oronoco is within the Richard J. Dorer Memorial State Forest in the southeastern part of Minnesota. A large portion of the city is built around Shady LakeUS Highway 52 is the chief route through the city. Nearby communities include Berne, Douglas, Genoa, Hammond, Mantorville, Mazeppa, Pine Island, Ringe, and South Troy. Rochester is about thirteen miles south of Oronoco. When the settlement of Oronoco began in 1854, the nearest human habitation was twenty-five miles away. Leonard B. Hodges, John B. Clark, and Ebenezer S. Collins were partners in the venture to establish a town in the wilderness. After building a log hut for their use, they invested in opening up a stage route from Dubuque, Iowa to Saint Paul and, by the summer of 1854 the M.O. Walker Stage Line was making daily trips. That same year, they donated ten acres, including a mill site and water power, to Ezra Odell and James Holliston, who built a sawmill during the following winter. Soon after a store was opened by John A. Moore, and a hotel by S.P. Hicks. Other mills and factories were built during the following years, and the village set its sights on becoming the county seat. The first meeting of the county commissioners was held in Oronoco in 1855 but when the boundaries of the new county were drawn up, Rochester became the natural center of the county and the obvious choice for the county seat. Gold was discovered along the banks of the Zumbro River near Oronoco in 1857, kicking off a gold rush that was brought to an end when two floods in 1859 washed away the equipment of the gold seekers, and it was determined that not enough gold had been found to make it worthwhile to resume prospecting. Oronoco Township was organized in 1858. Topics related to either the city or the township are appropriate for this category.

 

 

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