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Upsala is in southwestern Morrison County, in central Minnesota. State Highway 238 passes through the city, connecting it with Elmdale to the northeast, and Saint Anthony to the south.

Upsala is surrounded by Elmdale Township. The North Two River enters the city in the lower west side, flows northward to the center of the city, then moves south again, to exit the city in the lower east. County Highway 19 connects Upsala with the body of water known as Cedar Lake, to the west.

Upsala was settled largely by Swedish immigrants in the latter part of the 19th century, and it remained primarily Scandinavian through the first half of the 20th century.

In 1880, the Northern Pacific Railroad extended its tracks through the area, and began to sell land for a townsite, prompting enough settlers to come to the area to create a town. John Swedback opened a general store, and started a sawmill, with his wife, Ericka, running the store.

Originally, the town was known as Swedback's Settlement, but the name was changed to Upsala when a post office was opened in the 1880s.

Another early businessman was John S. Borgstrom, who came to farm but soon began augmenting his income through photography, opening studios in Upsala and some neighboring towns. At different times, he also operated a confectionery shop and a hardware store, later working as an undertaker. In 1914, he formed a partnership with Peter Viehauser, J.W. Fauk, and Gust Lindgren to establish the Farmer's State Bank of Upsala.

August Johnson owned the land that formed the primary region of Upsala. He sold sixty acres to Borgstrom in 1913, and the town was platted. Upsala became a city in 1916, with Gust Nelson as its first mayor. Nelson platted the northern section of Upsala.

By 1915, Upsala had a bank, creamery, telephone company, lumber and furniture dealerships, dry goods stores, a confectionery store, millinery store, blacksmith shop, feed mill, meat market, garage, and an implement and harness shop. A movie theater, drug store, billiard hall, and a doctor's office were added in the 1920s.

Upsala has never been a busy town. Its population has been in the 300s and 400s since its census was first taken in 1920. It is an inland city and, although the railroad came through the city, there was no stop in Upsala. The city lacked even a major road until State Highway 238 was constructed in 1945.

The first school in Upsala was the Rundquist School, an elementary school built in 1887, and there were four others by 1900. In 1920, its schools were consolidated, a new brick schoolhouse was constructed, and the original school building was moved to serve as a post office. Today, Upsala Area Schools (ISD #487) provides a PK-12th-grade program, including an elementary school program and a high school program.

One of the first churches in Upsala included the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Congregation, which was organized in 1879 and is now Gethsemane Lutheran Church. Incorporated in 1888, the Swedish Mission Church is now known as Community Covenant Church. In 1891, the First Swedish Baptist Church was formed but has since closed. Later churches included Mount Olive Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, the Word of Life Free Lutheran Church, and Saint Mary's Catholic Church.

The Upsala Public Library is a branch of the Great River Regional Library System.

This is a guide to the city of Upsala, Minnesota. Websites representing the city government are appropriate for this category, as are those of local churches, schools, businesses, events, and individuals.

 

 

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