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Located in lower western Minnesota, along its border with South Dakota, Ortonville is the county seat of Big Stone County. It is situated along the southeastern banks of Big Stone Lake, which is entirely within South Dakota. The chief routes through the city are US Highways 12 and 75, along with Minnesota Highway 7. Big Stone City, South Dakota is adjacent to Ortonville, and Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge is just south of the city. Other nearby communities include Odessa and Rosen, Minnesota and Schmidt Landing and Milbank, South Dakota. Ortonville was named for Cornelius Knute Orton, who took a claim on 160 acres of preempted government land in 1871, settling on Section 9 of Township 121, Range 46. He and three of his brothers built three buildings near the lake and began farming. Soon afterward, Orton opened a trading post. A post office was established at Orton’s trading post in 1875. The following year, a store was opened by partners by the name of Schumaker and Woodly. C.K. Orton gave a right of way to the railroad in the 1870s, and the first passenger train arrived at Ortonville in November of 1879. Ortonville was incorporated as a village in 1881, at which time it was named the county seat. Ortonville Township includes the city as well as the unincorporated community of Cashtown and the rural area surrounding the city. The current Big Stone County courthouse was constructed in 1902. The city’s peak population was 2,674 in 1960, and has been in decline since. Topics related to either the city or county are appropriate for this category.

 

 

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