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Most of the population of Pine Island is in Goodhue County, but a portion of the city extends into Olmsted County, and that section of the city has been gaining population in recent years as it becomes a suburb of Rochester. Not to be confused with the actual island on Vermilion Lake, the city of Pine Island is situated along the Middle Fork of the Zumbro River, on the southwestern edge of the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest, with US Highway 52 serving as the chief route through the city. Bordering on Pine Island's southeastern limits is the city of Oronoco. Other nearby communities include Roscoe, Roscoe Center, and Berne. The first white settlers came to the area in 1854. H.B. Powers is acknowledged as being the first man to build a cabin there, with Josiah Haggard a close second. When Haggard's claim was jumped by a named Howard, he crossed the Zumbro and made a second claim, which was later preempted by Moses Jewell. The village was surveyed and platted in 1856 and 1857 and named for the Indian word for the area (Wa-zu-wee-ta), which was a description of the area as an island of pines, not because it is or ever was an island of land within a body of water. A post office was established in 1856. In 1878, the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad came through. Pine Island was incorporated as a village in 1878, and as a city in 1883. In 1911, a group of dairies built a prize-winning, world-record cheese on a railroad flatcar. By 1920, there were forty-three cheese plants in the area, and half of them formed the Minnesota Cheese Producers Association with a large plant in Pine Island, situated across from Trailhead Park. Today, the small cheese factories are gone, but Land O' Lakes produces cheese there. The old Butter Factory houses bikes and bike helmets that are available to borrow at no cost. Organized in 1858, Pine Island Township exists as a separate political entity. Topics related to either the city or township are appropriate in this category.

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