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Heron Lake is in Jackson County, in lower Minnesota. The community was named for the nearby lake, which itself was named for the great blue herons who then congregated there. The main route through the city is Minnesota Highway 60. Nearby localities include Dundee, Kinbrae, Okabena, Wilder. Windom and Lakefield are about twelve miles from Heron Lake, northeast and southeast respectively, and Fulda is about eighteen miles northwest of the city. Former Vice President and presidential nominee, Walter Mondale, attended Heron Lake Public High School for three years while his father was the pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Heron Lake. The community was founded in 1871 as the terminus of the Black Hills branch of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railroad. The first inhabitants of the railroad town were John T. Smith and C.H. Carroll, who opened a store there, followed shortly after by a drug store, the railroad depot itself, a lumberyard, and a hotel. Early on, the area was hit by a grasshopper scourge, along with much of southwestern Minnesota, which brought business to a standstill as the fertile farmland upon which so many of the village’s businesses depended upon were unable to produce between the years of 1873 and 1878. However, 1979 brought the disappearance of the grasshoppers and the construction of two new lines of railroad in the vicinity, and the village was incorporated in 1882. Since its peak population of 928 in 1900, the city has experienced a general decline, but with population increases in 1920, 1940, 1960, 1980, and 2000, with a population of under seven hundred in 2010.



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