About Wright County

Location, Geography & Demographics
Wright County lies in East Central Minnesota, bordered on the north by the Mississippi River and the east by the Crow River. Due to its proximity to the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, this county is one of the fastest growing in the state.

Farmland, rivers and lakes characterize the landscape of Wright County. The county was established in 1855, and named, after much debate, for New York politician Silas Wright, a former U.S. senator. Monticello became the county seat. Pioneers from all over Europe, with a majority coming from Germany and Sweden, settled in what was then the Big Woods - large stands of oaks, elms and basswood - to make their living from the land.

Buffalo was established as the county seat in 1868 and is the county's second largest city with a 2009 population of 14,193. Seventeen cities and 18 townships exist in the county, which has a total estimated 2009 population of 120,684.


The Board of Commissioners, with 5 elected members, is the policy-making governing body. The Board appoints a County Coordinator to implement board policies and oversee the functioning of county operations. The county organization includes 15 departments which provide a variety of services to county residents.

Economics & Land Use
Wright County covers 716 square miles. About 69% of its land is classified as agriculture. The median home sale was $175,000 in 2010. The 2010 total county market value of all taxable real estate was $12,241,861,100. The market value for new construction in the county in 2009 was $64,958,400. The county government operates on a budget of $99,818,418 (2011 Budget). As agriculture diminishes as a land use, Wright County is poised with its growing labor force to meet future economic development.

Parks & Recreation
The People of Wright County value their natural surroundings, demonstrated by over 3,000 acres devoted to our park system. The county has a long history of setting aside scenic areas for the use of all residents, thanks to the foresight of Parks Board members and county commissioners. The parks system includes 29 units including regional and county, park reserves, forests, wayside rests and lake accesses. An excellent system of parks located along the North Fork of the Crow River these parks offer access to one of the region's most scenic and accessible state canoe routes.

Five parks feature swimming beaches for summer fun. Two wooded campgrounds with lake access provide campers with a spot to pitch a tent or park a camper. The parks also offer 31.5 miles of trails, 17 miles of ski trails, six fishing piers, a twelve hole disc golf course, seven playgrounds and seven picnic shelters. The Ney Nature Center, in Ney Park near Maple Lake, provides area school children and other groups with a facility for environmental education that's close to nature.

Historical Society
A visit to the Wright County Historical Society (763-682-7323) gives visitors a sense of history of Wright County with exhibits on early settlers and pioneer life. Use the library to study your family's genealogy. See the famous 32-piece one-man-band that was featured in the 1932 World's Fair at Chicago and the 1926 Model T once owned and used by Hubert H. Humphrey when he lived in Waverly. Other historic sites around the County include an 1885 one-room school and 1880 log cabin located on the Wright County fairgrounds in Howard Lake, the Fairhaven Mill Historic Wayside and the 1908 Chatham Town Hall.

Fast Facts
Facts at a Glance
Area 716 sq. mi.
North / South distance 31 miles
East / West distance 36 miles
Average elevation of the county above sea level 1,000 ft.
Number of lakes 298
Number of parks 29
Number of cities 17
Number of townships 18
1990 Median family income $36,000
2000 Median family income $60,940
1860 Population (first census) 3,729
1990 Population 68,710
2000 Population (last census) 89,986

City Population
(2009 State census)
(2000 Federal census)
Year Incorporated
Albertville 6,218 3,621 1903
Annandale 3,017 2,684 1888
Buffalo 14,193 10,097 1887
Clearwater 1,573 858 1855
Cokato 2,760 2,727 1878
Dayton 46 13 1972
Delano 5,386 3,837 1876
Hanover 2,148 1,023 1891
Howard Lake 2,021 1,853 1879
Maple Lake 2,016 1,633 1890
Monticello 11,501 7,868 1856
Montrose 2,556 1,143 1881
Otsego 13,562 6,389 1991
Rockford 3,832 3,340 1881
South Haven 213 204 1902
St. Michael 15,277 9,099 1890
Waverly 1,117 732 1881