city, seat (1871) of Kandiyohi county, southwest-central Minnesota, U.S. It is situated on Foot and Willmar lakes, in a lake region about 60 miles (95 km) southwest of St. Cloud. Settlers began arriving in the area in 1856, but the community was later deserted because of the Sioux uprising of 1862. In 1869 the railroad reached the spot, and the town was laid out and named for Leon Willmar, an agent of the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Company. It became a railroad division headquarters and a shipping point for the surrounding agricultural region. Swedish and Norwegian immigrants settled in the area. Agriculture remains the basis of the city's economy. Turkey processing is the major industry; the county is Minnesota's top producer of turkeys. Other farm products include corn (maize), soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy products. Tourism and the manufacture of farm equipment are also important. Willmar is a regional health care, education, government, and trade centre. A campus of Ridgewater College (formed in 1996 by the merger of Willmar Community College and Hutchinson-Willmar Regional Technical College) is in the city. Sibley and Monson Lake state parks are nearby. Inc. village, 1874; city, 1901. Pop. (1990) 17,531; (2000) 18,351.
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