Population (2010)

40,633

History

Watab is an Ojibwe word for the roots of the tamarack and jack pine. The Ojibwe used to split Watab and use it as threads to sew together birch bark canoes. Asa White opened a trading post here around 1848 to trade with the Ojibwe and Ho Chunk Indians. Nathan Myrick, the founder of La Crosse, Wisconsin, operated a store and bakery here in 1850. Watab was platted in 1854 when it had about 150 residents. It served as the seat of Benton County government briefly (from July 1856 to January 1859) until those functions were moved permanently to Sauk Rapids.

In 1855, local folks built a bridge across the Mississippi River, the first one above St. Anthony Falls. Well, they almost did. High winds roared through the area just before the bridge was completed and destroyed it. Watab benefited somewhat from being at the upriver end of rapids but never developed much industry. Today, the village is a bedroom community for the St. Cloud region.

**Watab is covered in the Headwaters Region Guide; other places in northern Minnesota are covered in Road Tripping Along the Great River Road, Vol. 1. Click the links above for more. Disclosure: This website may be compensated for linking to other sites or for sales of products we link to.

Where to Go Next

Next stop downriver: Sartell.

Next stop upriver: North Prairie.

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©Dean Klinkenberg, 2015