graphicgraphicThe first settlers began staking claim to land in the Kandiyohi County area in the 1850s, lured by rumors of good farmland, timber and game. Word-of-mouth proved true.

But Willmar really owes its existence to the Great Northern Railway, which brought carloads of Swedish and Norwegian immigrants to this division point after the Civil War. In 1870, Belgian Leon Willmar, on behalf of the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Company, purchased the title to Section 1 of Willmar Township, and the county seat expanded from an official village to a city by the turn-of-the-century.


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