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Situated between and below Lake Tetonka and Upper Sakatah Lake, the city of Waterville, Minnesota occupies the southeastern corner of Le Sueur County.

The city of Waterville is surrounded by Waterville Township, and Sakatah Lake State Park abuts the city on the lower east side, below Upper Sakatah Lake. The Cannon River connects the two lakes. Other nearby lakes include Fish Lake, Horseshoe Lake, Lower Sakatah Lake, Reeds Lake, and Sunfish Lake. Nearby cities include Morristown (6.3 miles east), Elysian (6.8 miles west), Kilkenny (8.2 miles north), and Waseca (11.1 miles south).

The main routes through the city are Minnesota State Highways 13 and 60.

Waterville has had a population between 1,000 and 2,000 since 1900. Although not a large town, it serves as a service and retail center for tourism, agriculture, and forestry operations.

The region was settled in the mid-1800s after the Treaty of Traverse de Sioux opened the Minnesota Territory for settlement. The township was settled by immigrants, as well as Americans who came from the East Coast. Among the earliest were Charles Christman, Jacob Dawald, Samuel Drake, Michael Ferch, and Amos Robinson.

In 1855, a group of nine men came from Maine, Massachusetts, and New York, settling on land that later became the city of Waterville. The townsite was platted in 1856, and named for Waterville, Maine, which was the hometown of E.L. Wright, one of the nine. Waterville was incorporated as a village in 1878, becoming a city in 1898.

In 1857, a post office was established in Waterville, with Samuel Drake as the first postmaster. He resigned later that same year and L.Z. Rogers became postmaster. That same year, Jacob Dawald opened a hotel, and a small frame building was erected to serve as a schoolhouse, in the charge of Miss Davidson.

It wasn't long before churches were opened to serve the new community. The first to hold services in Waterville were the Episcopalians, who began holding services in the school building in 1858. The Methodists organized a congregation in 1866, building a frame church building. A Baptist congregation was formed in 1860, meeting in various locations until the Methodist church was built, after which they shared that building for a time. Presbyterians formed in 1879, also meeting in the Episcopal church building. Roman Catholic services were held sporadically in 1879 and 1880 until a Catholic church building was erected in 1881. A German Methodist congregation also formed in the first couple of decades of the town.

In 1872, the Minneapolis & Saint Louis Railroad began constructing a north-south track through Waterville, and the Cannon Valley Railroad surveyed an east-west track through the city. The M&SL line was completed in 1877, and the Cannon Valley line in 1882.

A ferry crossed the Narrows between Upper and Lower Sakatah until a bridge was constructed. It was operated by a Warpekute Indian named Cut Nose. He was hanged with thirty-seven other Indians at Mankato in 1862 for his part in the Dakota War of 1862. Unlike other towns in the region, Waterville was not evacuated during the period of unrest, although it was the site of the last Sioux battle in the area.

Lakes and rivers have always played an important part in the economy of the city and township of Waterville, not only as an attraction for visitors seeking outdoor activities, such as boating or fishing but also for the industries that made use of the water source. Flour mills, sawmills, ice companies, brick building companies, woolen mills, ski factories, and seed companies have contributed to the growth of the city. Resorts, camping, hotels, restaurants, local shops, excursion boats, snowmobiling and biking trails, and other businesses and services are also important.

The focus of this category is on the city or township of Waterville, Minnesota. Appropriate topics may include municipal or township government websites, or those representing local schools, churches, industries, businesses, organizations, events, or individuals. Informational sites related to the city or township are also suitable.

 

 

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