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Situated justs south of central Minnesota, the city of Saint Cloud is the seat of government for Stearns County, and the state's tenth largest city.

The city straddles the Mississippi River in the northeast, and its city limits extend into Benton and Sherburne counties. The boundaries of Saint Cloud are not contiguous, particularly on the east side of the river, where portions of the city are surrounded by unincorporated land. The Sauk River separates the city diagonally, from its northeast corner to its southwest corner, and Lake George is located just south of downtown.

Portions of Saint Cloud directly abut the cities of Saint Augusta, Rockville, Saint Joseph, Sartell, Sauk Rapids, and Waite Park, and Clear Lake, Clearwater, Cold Spring, Foley, Kimball, and Rice are nearby.

Major highways serving the city include Interstate Highway 94, US Highway 10, and Minnesota State Highways 15 and 23. Several rail lines run through the city, including the Amtrak Empire Builder passenger line.

Saint Cloud has several golf courses, including Angushire Golf Course, Boulder Ridge Golf Club, St. Cloud Country Club, Territory Golf Club, and Veterans Golf Course. The city maintains ninety-five parks, including Calvary Hill Park, Centennial Park, Central Park, Cherry Park, Hester Park, McKinley Park, Pantown Park, Raymond Park, Reach Up Park, Riverside Park, Rotary East Park, Seberger Park, Spalt Park, Talahi Park, Whitney Park, Wilson Park, and Woodland Hills Park. There are also about thirty undeveloped islands on the Mississipi River, part of the state-designated wild and scenic river region.

Saint Cloud State University, the third-largest public university in Minnesota, is in Saint Cloud. Other colleges and universities in Saint Cloud include the College of Saint Scholastica - Saint Cloud Campus, Rasmussen College - Saint Cloud, Saint Cloud Technical & Community College, and the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Office.

Neighborhoods in Saint Cloud include Colonial Gardens, Lake George, McKinley and Railroad Parks, Northeast Wilson, Northside-Hester Park, Saint John Cantius, Seberger-Roosevelt, Southeast, and Southside University.

The early settlement of Saint Cloud began as three separate towns, arranged around a couple of deep ravines that joined the Mississippi River, known as Upper Town, Middle Town, and Lower Town. They merged to form the city of Saint Cloud in 1856.

Stearns County was formed in 1855, and Saint Cloud has always been the county seat.

General Sylvanus Lowry, a slaveholder from Kentucky, who had platted Upper Town in 1853, was elected the first mayor of Saint Cloud. When Lowry came to Minnesota, he brought his slaves with him and, since slaves were not permitted to file freedom suits in court, the Minnesota Territory's prohibition of slavery was unenforceable. After repeated attacks from Jane Grey Swisshelm, an abolitionist newspaper editor, Lowry started a rival newspaper, The Union, which later became the St. Cloud Times. Most Southerners left Minnesota at the start of the American Civil War but Lowry remained and was elected to the Minnesota State Senate in 1862. He died in Saint Cloud in 1865.

Originally, Saint Cloud was an economically viable settlement due to its location on the Mississippi River. Steamboats regularly docked at Saint Cloud until the Coon River Dam was constructed in 1912. By then, the railroad had extended its tracks to the city, and the Breen & Young Quarry, a granite quarry, had been founded there. The Monticello to Saint Cloud Railway was built by the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Railroad Company in 1882. It came up the west side of the Mississippi River and came into Saint Cloud, forming a wye at the depot and railyards on the northwest side of the downtown district. Together, the railroad and the quarries helped to maintain Saint Cloud's prominence as one of the largest cities in Minnesota.

In 1889, the Minnesota Legislature approved the purchase of 240-acres of land in East Saint Cloud for the construction of the Saint Cloud State Reformatory, which included the quarry, and used inmate labor to mine the granite to build the new prison, which is now known as the Minnesota Correctional Facility at St. Cloud.

Today, the health, education, and finance industries are the largest movers of the city's economy, although manufacturing is also a significant contributor.

The focus of this guide is on the city of Saint Cloud, Minnesota. Municipal, county, and other governmental offices, departments, and services located within the city are appropriate topics for this category, as are local businesses and services, universities and schools, churches, industries, hotels, organizations, and individuals.

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