Visit Mankato

Historical Highlights

Mankato History


Self-Guided Tours Historical Highlights | Betsy & Tacy | US -Dakota Conflict

Only Mankato combines a vibrant City Center, enriching cultural experiences, and extensive cycling trails and downhill slopes in a bicycle friendly and historic river valley. Founded in 1852, Mankato is rich in history including Native American history and literary history. Our timeline features history specifically of interest to travelers like you.

Betsy & Tacy   |   US -Dakota War   |   Blue Earth County History

1852:  Parson King Johnson and Henry Jackson arrived at Sibley Mound on the banks of the Blue Earth River on Feb. 5.

1852:  Mankato townsite surveyed and platted by S. P. Folsom of St. Paul.

1862:  U.S.-Dakota Conflict (Aug. 17-Dec. 26, 1862). Hundreds of white settlers and Dakota lost their lives. The decision to have 38 of 303 Native Americans sentenced to death resulted in the nation’s largest mass execution. More about the U.S.-Dakota War. Go>

  Mankato Normal School established and first classes were held in basement of Methodist Episcopal Church by Professor George M. Gage. Building constructed in 1869 on Fifth Street. Now Minnesota State University, Mankato.

1868:  The Minnesota Valley Railroad completed line to Mankato and first train arrived in Mankato.

1879:  Iron truss bridge was first bridge across the Minnesota River between Mankato and North Mankato.

1880-85: First utilities established in Mankato – telephone line (1880), gas lines, street lamps and water lines (1883), electricity (1885)

1887: Sibley Park, the first city park, was established. Over the years, the park has served as a destination for residents and visitors featuring a racetrack (1887-1915), a zoo (1907-1965), recreation facilities and today’s Sibley Farm petting zoo and Kiwanis Holiday Lights (2012-present).

1897:  The Henrietta was the last excursion paddle wheeler to visit Mankato. (See photo above.)

1910-11:  Rapidan Dam constructed, with first power generated to Mankato.

1919:  Sinclair Lewis wrote a portion of his novel “Main Street” in Mankato.

1923: Mankato’s first airport was located near today’s Minnesota State University, Mankato. The airport moved to its current location in 1970.

1937:  Ski Haven opened for downhill skiing by Harvey Anderson. In 1977, it became known as Mount Kato.

1938:  First area radio station, KYSM, began broadcasting.

1940:  Maud Hart Lovelace, born and raised in Mankato, publishes first book in Betsy-Tacy series. More about Betsy-Tacy. Go>

1946:  Mankato Area Vocational-Technical Institute approved as first in Minnesota.  Now South Central College.

1948:  William Carlson established Carlson Letter Service in the basement of his home in North Mankato. Became Carlson Craft in 1974.

1960:  KEYC-TV began broadcasting.  Bandwagon first aired in 1961.

1966:  Minnesota Vikings held its first training camp in Mankato. Go>

1969:  Madison East Mall, Mankato’s first mall/shopping complex, opened on Mankato’s hilltop.

1972: Dakota community returned to Mankato after a century for the first Wacipi (pow wow) to “honor” the 38 Dakota Warriors executed in 1862.

1977-78:  Urban Renewal began, closing two blocks of Front Street in the heart of Mankato’s shopping district.  Mankato Mall constructed.

1992:  Brett’s Department Store closed after 124 years in retail. George E. Brett established the Empire Store in 1868 on Front Street in Mankato. A few years later the name was changed to Brett’s Dry Goods Store.

2010: The first Mankato Marathon was held with more than 2,000 runners.

*Photograph and timeline provided by the Blue Earth County Historical Society.


For more information about the area’s history contact:

Betsy-Tacy Society |

Blue Earth County Historical Society |

Nicollet County Historical Society |