St. Cloud, Minnesota

St. Cloud is a city and county seat of Stearns County in central Minnesota, United States. The city also extends into Benton and Sherburne counties. In 2020, St. Cloud had a population of 68,881.

St. Cloud, whose metropolitan area has approximately 196,000 residents, is home to St. Cloud State University (SCSU) and St. Cloud Technical College.



St. Cloud is approximately 95-110 kilometers northwest of the Twin Cities, which it is connected to via Interstate 94 and the U.S. Hwy 10 is connected. The Mississippi River flows through St. Cloud. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city's area is 80.1 km².


Sightseeing features

St. Cloud's attractions include:
the Munsinger Gardens and Clemens Gardens
the Stearns History Museum


Demographic data

As of the 2010 census, St. Cloud was home to 65,842 people in 25,439 households. The population density was 843 people per square kilometer. Statistically, 2.37 people lived in each of the 25,439 households.

The racial makeup of the population was 84.6 percent White, 7.8 percent African American, 0.7 percent Native American, 3.7 percent Asian, and 0.8 percent from other races; 2.5 percent descended from two or more ethnic groups. Regardless of ethnicity, 2.4 percent of the population was of Hispanic or Latino descent.

18.9 percent of the population was under 18 years old, 70.8 percent were between 18 and 64 and 10.3 percent were 65 years or older. 48.5 percent of the population was female.

The median annual household income was $40,687. Per capita income was $22,871. 23.9 percent of the residents lived below the poverty line.


Town twinning

Since 2006, St. Cloud has been twinned with the Franconian town of Spalt.

The local Apollo High School and Technical High School have a partnership with the Walburgisgymnasium in Menden. The State University is a partner university of the Technical University of Ingolstadt.



St. Cloud gained international prominence within the fan base of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother as it is the hometown of main character Marshall Eriksen. It is a setting in the series several times, but is presented as a smaller and more rural town than it actually is.



The present-day St. Cloud area has been occupied by various indigenous tribes for thousands of years. Voyageurs and voyageurs (Coureurs des bois) from New France first met the Ojibwe and Dakota through the lucrative North American fur trade with local Native Americans.

The Minnesota Territory was organized in 1849; the St. Cloud area was opened to homesteaders after the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux was signed with the Dakota in 1851.

John L. Wilson, a Yankee from Columbia, Maine, of French Huguenot ancestry, was interested in Napoleon. He named the settlement St. Cloud after Saint-Cloud, a suburb of Paris where Napoleon had his favorite palace.

Saint Cloud was used by Métis merchants as a way station for the Middle Branch and Woods Branch of the Red River Trail, which connected the Canadian-U.S. border at Pembina, North Dakota, with Saint Paul. The wagon trains often consisted of several hundred oxcarts. The Métis who brought furs, to be exchanged for supplies and brought back to their rural villages, camped west of St. Cloud and crossed the Mississippi River at St. Cloud or at Sauk Rapids, just north of St. Cloud.

The city of St. Cloud was incorporated in 1856, and beginning in 1853, European-American settlers formed and developed three settlements known as Upper Town, Middle Town, and Lower Town. Remnants of the deep canyon that separated these three settlements can still be seen today. Middle Town was settled primarily by German Catholic immigrants and settlers from the eastern states. They were recruited to the area by Father Francis Xavier Peirce, a Catholic priest who also served as a missionary to Native Americans.

Lower Town was founded by settlers from northern New England and the Mid-Atlantic, including former residents of upstate New York. The Protestant settlers opposed slavery.

Upper Town (Arcadia) was planned by General Sylvanus Lowry, a slave owner and trader from Kentucky. He served as a member of the Territorial Legislature from 1852 to 1853 and was elected chairman of the newly created town council in 1856, serving for one year (the office of mayor did not yet exist).

Jane Gray Swishelm, an abolitionist newspaper editor who had emigrated from Pittsburgh, repeatedly attacked Lowry in print. On one occasion, Lowry organized a "vigilance committee" that broke into Swisshelm's newspaper office, removed her paper, and threw it into the Mississippi River. Lowry founded a rival newspaper, the Union.

In 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision ruled that slaves could not sue for freedom and that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional. When the Civil War broke out, nearly all Southerners left the St. Cloud area with their slaves; the 1860 census estimated the total number of slaves in the area to be in single digits, as there were 4 million slaves. Lowry died in the city in 1865.

During the American Civil War, many young men from St. Cloud and the surrounding area served in the Union Army. After the war ended, many local Civil War veterans remained heavily involved with the Grand Army branch of the Republican Army in St. Cloud and raised funds for the construction of a memorial statue to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln that stands near the St. Germain Street Bridge.

For two years beginning in 1864, Stephen Miller served as governor of Minnesota. Miller was a "Pennsylvania German businessman," lawyer, author, active abolitionist, and personal friend of Alexander Ramsey, who in 1860 joined Lincoln on the Republican ticket.

Although river levels were unstable, steamboats regularly docked at St. Cloud as part of the fur trade and other commerce; the construction of the Coon Rapids Dam in 1912-14 ended that service. Granite quarries have operated in the area since the 1880s, supplying granite to St. Cloud. Cloud's nickname is "The Granite City."

In 1917, Samuel Pandolfo started the Pan Motor Company in St. Cloud. He claimed that his company's Pan cars would make St. Cloud the new Detroit, but the company failed at a time when resources were being directed to World War I. He was later convicted and imprisoned for attempting to defraud investors.

According to documents from the Stearns Historical Museum, more than 2,000 residents of the predominantly German-American St. Cloud area served in the U.S. Army against their country during World War I. On January 26, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson sent a letter to Bishop Joseph Francis Bush, who was a member of the St. Cloud community, thanked him for his support of the war effort.


Sons and daughters of the town

Stephen Miller (1816–1881), Governor of Minnesota
George Ross Smith (1864–1952), politician
Louis L. Collins (1882–1950), politician
June Marlowe (1903–1984), actress
Gig Young (1913–1978), actor
Ed Henry (1921–2010), political scientist, university lecturer and local politician
David Durenberger (1934–2023), politician
Greg Mortenson (born 1957), philanthropist
Joel Gretsch (born 1963), actor
Ginger Helgeson-Nielsen (born 1968), tennis player
Cory Laylin (born 1970), ice hockey player
Kurt Sauer (born 1981), ice hockey player
Chris Harrington (born 1982), ice hockey player
Michael Sauer (born 1987), ice hockey player
Anne Schleper (born 1990), ice hockey player
Nate Schmidt (born 1991), ice hockey player