From 1856 to 1865, in its first decade of existence, the city of Hastings grew by 2,500 people, enjoying a boom of settlement also experienced by other cities along the Mississippi.
A steady flow of settlers, including many immigrants, contributed to a rapid growth of farming and industry in the region — and Hastings became a hub of commercial activity.
The Arrival of Immigrants
The treaties of 1851 relocated the Dakota to reservations, opening abundant land west of the Mississippi to settlement. Many of the early settlers were immigrants who came to Hastings primarily from northern European countries such as Germany, Ireland, and Sweden.
Drawn to Hastings because of its location on the river and the fertile and inexpensive farmland nearby, many immigrants established farms, while others started businesses or found work in the growing city.
Grain and Lumber:
Early Industry in Hastings
Before the railroads were built, Hasting was among the largest grain markets in Minnesota. The city's location on the Mississippi made it a natural spot for grain to be bought, sold, milled, and shipped by river to national markets.
To meet the settlers' demand for building material, pine logs were cut in central Minnesota and floated down the Mississippi River in rafts, like the one shown beside the bridge in the view above.