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Situated along the South Fork of the Crow River, in Carver County, the city of Watertown is typical of the central Minnesota settlements that arose in the 1850s.

The river enters the northern part of the city in the eastern segment and exits at the south in the western part of Watertown. There are several lakes just outside of town, particularly to the east. These include Mud Lake, Oak Lake, Pooles Lake, Rice Lake, and Swede Lake.

Parks and recreational areas within the city include Kings Highland Park, Kings Meadow Park, Lions Park, Madison Green Park, Rick Johnson Memorial Park, Riverpoint Park, Sugarbush Park, The Landings, Tuscan Village Park, and Watertown Ball Diamonds. The Rivers Edge Golf Course is just north of the city limits.

The city of Watertown is surrounded by Watertown Township. Nearby cities include Mayer (6.2 miles south), Delano (6.9 miles north-northeast), Lyndale (6.9 miles east-northeast), Saint Bonifacius (8.7 miles southeast), and Winsted (12.0 miles west).

The chief route through Watertown is Minnesota State Highway 25. County Roads 10, 13, 20, 24, and 27 also run through the city.

Watertown's beginnings go back to the early 1850s, with the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux and the Treaty of Mendota, which forced the Dakotas to cede much of their land in the Minnesota Territory, allowing for whites to settle the region.

In 1856, Alexander Moore and David Bickford came to the area seeking a suitable place to found a town. The followed the river to a place where there was a succession of rapids, for which they named the town they hoped to found Rapid City. Isaac Lewis, a partner of Bickford, decided to take it upon himself to create the town. He opened a general goods store, while Moore built a sawmill in the fall of 1856, and it wasn't long before European immigrants began settling the area.

The region was part of a heavily wooded are known as the Big Woods, and wild game, berries, and fish formed much of the diet of the early settlers. In the spring, they tapped sugar maples.

The shareholders of the company that was formed to create the town included Alexander Moore, David Bickford, Isaac Lewis, John H. Stevens, H.B. Hancock, Henry Chambers, Isaac B. Edwards, M.C. Baker, Lewis Herrington, and Henry Kind. Later, Caleb Lewis, C.H. Pettit, and R.J. Mendenhall were added.

Rapid Waters was platted at a place where they had previously been a Dakota village, headed by Chief Little Crow.

In 1858, the name of the town was changed to Watertown because it was learned that another townsite in the county was known as Rapid Waters. The townsite was on land owned by Caleb Lewis, the father of Isaac Lewis.

More settlers came to the town after the Territorial Road was built in the fall of 1856. Isaac Lewis financed the construction of the first cabins, its first hotel, first store, and the first bridge over the river. He was also part owner of the sawmill, as well as a grist mill. Among the first families to settle in Watertown were Daniel and Anna Justus, John Buehler, Joe Gast, Seraphin Kemf, August and Justus Krause, Dr. Benedict Leman, Benjamin F. Light, John P. Miller, and Anton Sunie.

A post office was established at the general store operated by Eli Lewis in 1857, with Eli as the first postmaster. Another store was opened by J.A.C. Flood. A stagecoach line came through town, with the post office serving as the distributing point for the county. The first school in Watertown met in the second floor of the Eli Lewis store, where it remained until a schoolhouse was built in the fall of 1858.

Progress within the village stagnated during the American Civil War, as there wasn't a man left in the area between the ages of eighteen and forty-five after the last enlistments. Following the Civil War, the availability of farm machinery spurred agricultural activity throughout the township and county, and Watertown served as a commercial center.

By the 1870s, there were a bell foundry, three blacksmith shops, a brewery, four churches, two confectionary stores, two doctor's offices, a drug store, three farm machinery shops, two furniture factories, three general stores, a hardware store, two harness shops, three hotels, a jewelry store, two lawyers, a public hall, seven saloons, four shoemaking shops, an undertaker, and three wagon shops. The sawmill and grist mill was an important part of the economy. In the early 1900s, the food processing industry was a significant drive to the town's economy.

Watertown was incorporated in 1877.

Topics related to the city or township of Waterford are appropriate for this category, including municipal and township sites, and local businesses, churches, schools, organizations, and individuals, as well as informational sites if they are focused on the city or township.



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