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The city of Marshall is the county seat of Lyon County, a regional center in southwest Minnesota, the headquarters of the Schwan Food Company, and the home of Southwest Minnesota State University. The chief routes through the city are US Highway 59 and Minnesota Highways 19, 23, and 68. Nearby communities include Amiret, Arco, Dudley, Ghent, Green Valley, Land, Milroy, and Russell. Marshall was platted when the railroad extended its track to that point in 1872, although Lake Marshall Township had been established a couple of years earlier. The town grew quickly. Only nine months later, the town has nearly eighty permanent buildings and others under construction. Marshall was incorporated as a village in 1876, and as a city in 1901. A hospital was built in 1950, and Marvin Schwan transformed his dairy into an ice cream home delivery service that same year, which is now known as the Schwan Food Company, still headquartered in Marshall. Southwest Minnesota State University was founded in 1963, opening its doors to students in 1967. Since its first census in 1880, Marshall's population has not decreased in any census year, although growth has slowed considerably since 1970.


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