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Litchfield is the county seat of Meeker County, Minnesota. The chief routes through the city are US Highway 12 and Minnesota Highways 22 and 24. The southern portion of the city is clustered around Lake Ripley, which was named for Dr. F.N. Ripley, who froze to death on the shores of the lake in 1856. Along US 12, Litchfield is east of Grove City and west of Darwin. Other nearby communities include Acton, Atwater, Crow River, Dassel, Forest City, Greenleaf, Jennie, Kingston, Manannah, Rosendale, and Strout. Paynesville is about twenty-five miles north, and Willmar is about thirty miles west of Litchfield. The settlement was originally named Ripley, for Dr. Ripley, but was later changed to Ness, for Ole Halverson Ness, who founded the First Lutheran Church and was part of the burial party who buried the first five victims of the US Dakota War. The town was platted in 1869 when the railroad extended its tracks to that point, at which time it was renamed for E. Darwin Litchfield, a major stockholder of the Saint Paul and Pacific Railroad. It was designated the county seat that same year. The first home in the community was built by G.B. Waller, who platted the town. Litchfield’s first school was opened in 1870. Litchfield was incorporated in 1872. Although not a large city today, Litchfield has not decreased in population since its first census in 1870.


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