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Situated on a rapids on the Mississippi River, near its junction with the Sauk River, Sauk Rapids, Mississippi is in southwestern Benton County.

Settlement of the area by white Americans began in 1851, when W.H. Wood built a mansion there, known as Lynden Terrace. Before long, others came to build homes and farms.

The new town was named for the rapids on the Mississippi River, just below the mouth of the Sauk River. Sauk Rapids was named the county seat, and a general store, hotel, and jail were built there.

A Congregational church, and then Methodist, Episcopalian, and Lutheran churches. In 1854, the Sauk Rapids Frontiersman began publishing.

In 1856, the county seat was moved to Watab, then moved back to Sauk Rapids in 1859, after which a courthouse was built. In 1897, the county seat was moved to Foley, where it remains. The courthouse burned in 1917.

In 1874, Sauk Rapids became the terminus for the railroad.

A flour mill was established in 1875, but lost in a tornado in 1886. A bridge was built in 1876, but destroyed later that same year, and not rebuilt until 1879. A school was built in 1886.

On April 14, 1886, a tornado struck Sauk Rapids, destroying nearly all of its downtown businesses, and killing forty-four people. The city never again regained its importance in state affairs.

The St. Paul & Pacific Railroad Company built a line that terminated at Sauk Rapids in 1874, which shipped produce from as far as the upper Red River Valley to markets elsewhere.

The Minneapolis, St. Cloud & Sauk Railroad was proposed in 1878, but not built.

The Benton Power & Traction Company completed a railway that terminated in Sauk Rapids in 1914. This line became the Granite City Railroad, and then the Northern States Power Company, before being abandoned in 1933.

In 2007, the Sauk Rapids Regional Bridge across the Mississippi River was completed, replacing the former Sauk Rapids Bridge, which has subsequently been demolished. The new bridge resulted in sharp changes in the Sauk Rapids downtown district, as the new bridge links to 2nd Street rather than to 1st Street, and also adjusted the intersection of Benton Drive and 2nd Street, demolishing several downtown buildings in the process.

Sauk Rapids has grown steadily since it first appeared on the census records in 1860 with a population of 167. Its population has increased every census year, and had a population of nearly 13,000 at the time of the 2010 census.

The city is served by US Highway 10 and Minnesota State Highway 15. Saint Cloud is adjacent to Sauk Rapids in the southwest, while Sartell abuts the city in the northwest. Watab is about six miles to the north, and Foley is about sixteen miles to the northeast.

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