Hastings

Hastings is a city mostly in Dakota County, Minnesota, of which it is the county seat, with a portion in Washington County, Minnesota. It is near the confluence of the Mississippi, Vermillion, and St. Croix Rivers. Its population was 22,154 at the 2020 census. It is named for the first elected governor of Minnesota, Henry Hastings Sibley.

The advantages of Hastings's location that led to its original growth are that it is well-drained, provides a good riverboat port, and is close to a hydropower resource at the falls of the Vermillion River. Other sites closer to the river confluence are either too swampy (Dakota County) or too hilly (Washington County and Pierce County, Wisconsin).

U.S. Highway 61 and Minnesota State Highways 55 and 316 are three of Hastings's main routes. In the winter of 1820, a military detachment from Fort Snelling settled the area around Hastings to guard a blocked shipment of supplies. Lieutenant William G. Oliver camped in an area that came to be known as Oliver's Grove; in 1833 a trading post was opened there. After the Treaty of Mendota of 1851 opened the area for white settlement, Oliver's Grove was surveyed and incorporated as a city in 1857, a year before Minnesota's admission to the Union. The same year, Hastings was named the county seat of Dakota County. The name "Hastings" was drawn out of a hat from suggestions placed in it by several of the original founders.

In the mid-19th century, Hastings, Prescott, Wisconsin, and the adjacent township of Nininger were areas of tremendous land speculationIgnatius L. Donnelly promoted the area as a potential "New Chicago." The Panic of 1857 put an end to this dream. The speculation and panic caused the cities' growth to be less than expected given their location at the confluence of two significant rivers; today, their combined population is approximately 25,000, and all that remains of Nininger is a few building ruins.

Hastings has Minnesota's second-oldest surviving county courthouse (after Washington County CourthouseStillwater), finished in 1871 at a cost of $63,000. The county administration began moving to a new facility in 1974, and in 1989 the City of Hastings purchased the old building. It was rededicated in 1993 as City Hall. In 1895 a spiral bridge was built over the Mississippi River, designed to slow down horse-drawn traffic as it entered downtown. The novel design became a tourist attraction, but the bridge was demolished in 1951 because it could not handle modern vehicles. The 1951 bridge was itself demolished and its replacement opened in 2013.

In 1930, the Army Corps of Engineers completed Lock and Dam No. 2 at Hastings, part of the canal lock systems on the Mississippi that stretch from Minneapolis to St. Louis. Lock and Dam No. 2 is the site of the nation's first commercial, federally licensed hydrokinetic power facility, a partnership between the City of Hastings and Hydro Green Energy, LLC of Westmont, Illinois. Fasbender Clinic, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is a city landmark.

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