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This is a guide to the city of Winona, the county seat of Winona County, Minnesota, and situated in the bluff country on the Mississippi River.

The city is near the center of a fifty-mile navigable section of the Mississippi River that flows from west to east. The river is a significant part of the city's history. Until the signing of the Treaty of Mendota in 1851, the Mississippi River marked the western border of the United States. Today, the river serves as a corridor for waterfowl, and is home to a wide variety of wildlife. It also provides recreational activities, including boating, fishing, and swimming.

In the 1700s, both sides of the Mississippi were inhabited by Native Americans. The Mdewakanton Sioux village that was situated at the current site of Winona was named Keoxa. The first white men to come into the area were explorers, then trappers, loggers, and others who came to trade with the Indians. Then came the loggers, the squatters, the land-grabbers, steamboaters, and industrial barons who recognized the value of the river as a highway upon which to transport goods to market.

Canoes were replaced by steamboats that transported settlers, soldiers, and freight, to and from the area. Then came the paddle-wheelers; a lot of them, hauling freight and passengers. In 1890 alone, nearly nine thousand rafts, boats, and barges came to Winona. Once the forests were decimated, the rafts were used for excursions. Boats built solely for excursions offered more comfort than the rafts.

In 1820, the US Congress authorized the removal of obstructions to navigation on the Mississippi River. Where necessary, channels were dug, removing snags and sandbars that obstructed travel along the river.

Whites settled the area in 1851, and a town was platted in 1852, and originally named Montezuma. Its name was soon changed to Winona at the request of Henry D. Huff, who acquired an interest to the townsite in 1853, and platted an addition. The first settlers of Winona were largely from New England. In 1856, several German immigrants came to Winona. Beginning in 1859, several Polish immigrants made their home in Winona and the surrounding region.

The early economy of the city was based on lumber, wheat, steamboating, and the railroads. The steamboats, and then the railroad, transported lumber and wheat to markets. The first railway bridge across the river at Winona was built by the Winona & Saint Peter Railroad in 1871. The Winona Bridge Railway constructed a second bridge across the river at Winona. The first train crossed the steel and iron bridge in 1891, and it was used by the Green Bay & Western, as well as the Burlington Railroad, for nearly a century, closing in 1985, and dismantled in 1990. In 1892, a wagon toll bridge was built, remaining in service until 1942.

The city of Winona has two historic districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which are together administered as a single local historic district by the Winona Heritage Preservation Commission.

In 1942, the city built a bandshell for outdoor music performances and other events. Concerts are held there during the summer, including free weekly concerts by the Winona Municipal Band.

The Bud King Ice Arena was built by the City of Winona and the Winona Area Youth Hockey Association, and is operated and maintained by the city, while WAYHA is responsible for programming. The facility includes an indoor and an outdoor ice arena. Additionally, the Winona Parks and Recreation Department maintains eight free seasonal public skating rinks throughout the city.

The Bob Welch Aquatic Center includes a 298-foot water slide, an Olympic-size pool, a mushroom waterfall, two diving boards, a playground area, and a bocce ball court.

The Lake Lodge Recreation Center is situated in Lake Park on Lake Winona, offering canoeing, paddle-boarding, and kayaking, as well as tandem biking, log rolling, and long boarding. It also includes a lodge and boats which are available for rent. In the winter, there is ice skating, snowshoeiing, and indoor activities at the lodge.

Situated between Lake Park and the Mississippi River, but closer to the river, the East Recreation Center, Community Garden, and Neighborhood Park offers outdoor spaces for people to gather and play, as well as an indoor recreation center, and a community garden.

For seniors in Winona, the Friendship Center offes a variety of programs and special events.

Winona is bordered by the city of Goodview to the west, and Stockton is about eight or nine miles to the west-southwest.

Several small islands on the Mississippi River are in Winona. These include Latsch Island, which is home to a boathouse community that has been in existence for generations. Much of the island is itself a city park, and boathouse owners pay a mooring fee to the city.


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