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This is a guide to the city of Willmar, Minnesota, the largest town in Kandiyohi County, and the county seat.

Willmar Lake and Foot Lake take up a large part of the northern portion of the city, and Swan Lake abuts the city at its northernmost point. Other nearby lakes include Skataas Lake, St. John's Lake, Wagonga Lake, Eagle Lake, East Solomon Lake, West Soloman Lake, and another Swan Lake southeast of Willmar.

Additionally, Willmar has more than thirty parks throughout the city, including Bergquist Park, Bjorsell Park, Canigo Park, Cardinal Park, College View Park, Eastside Park, Flags of Honor Park, Garfield Park, Gesch Park, Hanson Park, Hedin Park, Hilltop Park, Jaycee Park, Lincoln Park, Lions Park, Miller Park, Minnegassco Park, Northside Park, Pleasant View Park, Ramblewood Park, Rau Park, Rice Park, Richland Park, Robbins Island Park, Southfield Park, Sperry Park, Sunrise Park, Swansson Field Regional Park, Thompson Park, Valleyside Park, Vos Park, Wellin Park, and West Wind Park.

Other community or recreational facilities include Bria's Playground, Destination Playground, Disc Golf Course, Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center, Eagle Creek Golf Club, Kandiyoti County Fairgrounds, Splash Pad, Valley Golf Course, Willmar Archery Park, Willmar Civic Center, Willmar Community and Activity Center, and Willmar Trap Range.

Willmar is centrally located in Kandiyohi County, and has long served as a regional commercial center. The chief routes through the city are US Highways 12 and 71, and Minnesota State Highways 23 and 40. Willmar is mostly surrounded by Willmar Township, although a couple of disconnected portions of the city are surrounded by Saint Johns Township, and the northeastern section of the city abuts Dovre Township, Green Lake Township, and Kandiyohi Township. Nearby cities include Pennock (6.3 miles northwest), Kandiyohi (6.5 miles east), Spicer (11.2 miles northeast), and Raymond (12.6 miles southwest).

The first settlers came to the area that was to become Willmar in the 1850s, largely attracted to the fertile soil, timber, and plentiful game. Although the early farms and homes were abandoned during the Dakota War of 1862, many returned and others came to claim the land that had been abandoned.

The population of the area grew after Willmar was established as the division point on the Great Northern Railway in 1869, many of its settlers being recent Swedish and Norwegian immigrants. Willmar was selected by George L. Becker, president of the railroad, and named for Leon Willmar, an agent for the European bondholders of the Saint Paul and Pacific Railroad. Although Leon Willmar was living in London at the time, he later acquired several hundred acres of land along Foot Lake, passing them on to his son, Paul Willmar, who had some expensive buildings built on his farm in 1871.

Willmar was designated as the county seat in 1871, incorporated as a village in 1874, and as a city in 1901. The village had a station of the Great Northern Railroad, and a post office was established in 1869. The population of Willmar has increased every decade since a census was first taken in 1880.

Willmar Township was organized in 1870, and named for the village.

Appropriate topics for this category include both the city and township of Willmar. Websites representing the municipal or township governments, as well as county agencies and departments located within the city, as the county seat, may be submitted to this category, as well as those of local churches, schools, industries, businesses, organizations, individuals, and events.


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