Waterville (population about 2000) is located in the
It was not until the middle nineteenth century that
attempts at settlements were made. In 1851, an Indian
Treaty was signed at Traverse de Sioux near St. Peter opening
l and in Minnesota to settlement. In 1855 a group of nine men
from Maine, Massachusetts, and New York arrived in what is now
The town site of Waterville was surveyed and platted in late 1856.
The name was suggested by E.I Wright, a native of Waterville,
There being no railroad west of the Mississippi River, the early settlers conceived the idea of getting communication with the outside world by water. In 1857, L.Z. Rogers, representing Le Sueur County in the legislature, and L.F. Hubbard of Goodhue County, secured a land grant for the purpose of improving the Cannon River from Red Wing to Waterville so as to have slick water navigation to the Mississippi River, but it never materialized. The land grant was later transferred to the Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pacific Company to aid in the construction of the line from Red Wing to Mankato, later the Chicago Northwestern Railroad. In 1872, the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad (north-south) and the Cannon Valley Railroad (east-west) were surveyed. The M. & St. L. was built in 1877; the Cannon Valley in 1882.
Cut Nose, a Warpekute Indian, operated a ferry at the Narrows between Upper and Lower Sakatah until a bridge was built. He was one of thirty-eight Indians hanged at Mankato in 1862.
His body was exhumed by Dr. Charles Mayo and is now part of the medical exhibit at Mayo Museum at Rochester, Minnesota. Waterville was the site of the last Sioux battle in the area.
Several prominent persons came from Waterville. Early pioneer A.B. Rogers discovered two passes in the Rocky Mountains from the railroads. The first one is Rogers Pass, discovered while Rogers was employed by the Canadian Rocky Mountains Railroad in 1885, and for the Transcontinental Railroad in 1886. He was superintendent to the Cannon Valley Railroad when it came to Waterville.
Anna Dickie Olsen was a member of the advisory board to the League of Women Voters in 1920. She was also the first woman to be nominated for the U.S. Senate in 1922 (unsuccessful).
Jesse James and his gang were frequent visitors to Waterville, posing as land buyers or lumber dealers. They stopped in Waterville on their way to the Great Northern Bank Robbery in 1876.
During the 1890’s - early 1900’s the Andrews Family Opera Company pioneer musicians and performers, established their summer headquarters on the north shore of Lake Tetonka building a magnificent hotel, race track, amusement park, and opera house. Aspur line was built by the M. & St. L Railroad to accommodate the excursion trains that brought people from the Twin Cities and elsewhere.
The Mayo Brothers were impressed with Waterville’s location and wished to build a hospital here. They were unable to secure sewer and water from the city fathers, so they went to Rochester.
Waterville is the hometown of several world-famous artists. Adolf
Dehn, one of the greatest artists of Minnesota, pioneered lithographic
techniques. His water
Since the establishment of the first school in 1857, the people of Waterville have supported an outstanding school system. The school district received a Five Star Rating recognizing it as one of the top academic school districts in Minnesota.