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The Minnesota River is about 332 miles long, all within the US state of Minnesota, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It rises from the Big Stone Lake on the Minnesota-South Dakota border in southwest Minnesota. Flowing southeast to Mankato it joins the Mississippi River just south of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul near historic Fort Snelling. It drains a watershed of over 16,000 square miles in Minnesota alone and 2000 square miles in Iowa and South Dakota. Although it was known by various names in its long history, in 1852 the United States Congress voted that the official name of the river should be its aboriginal name: "Minnesota". The Minnesota Territory first and later the state of Minnesota were named for the river. The river was a major migratory route for the area.
The river valley of the Minnesota River is best known for its fine farmland. It is one of the country's largest producers of sweet corn and is home to several large food producing and canning companies. Le Sueur, Green Giant and General Mills all have canneries in the river valley. Barges travel up and down the river stopping for loading on the many docks that exist along the waterway. After loading they carry farm grains and vegetables to ports in Minneapolis and Saint Paul for transport down the Mississippi River.
Cities and towns
The Minnesota river travels nearby or through the following cities and towns:
Belle Plaine, Bloomington, Burnsville, Carver, Chanhassen, Chaska, Courtland, Eagan, Eden Prairie, Franklin, Granite Falls, Henderson, Kasota, Le Sueur, Mankato, Mendota, Mendota Heights, Montevideo, Morton, New Ulm, North Mankato, Odessa, Ortonville, St. Peter, Savage and Shakopee.