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Downtown Eyota in early 1900s--the stores overlooked the train depot.
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Chicago & North Western train depot; between North Front & South Front Streets
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Eyota depot looking east. Trains going east and west, to Chatfield and Plainview stopped in Eyota.
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C.P. Russell home. Charles P. was an early investor in Eyota.
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Eyota Hospital built in 1900 by Dr. R.C. Dugan on Second St.

Eyota History: Railroad Town Platted in 1864 and Incorporated 1875

The Winona & St. Peter Railroad created Eyota: in the early years Eyota was an important destination for business travelers and mail, and shipping point for locally raised grain and cattle. It was located only a mile from a wye with rail extensions going north to Plainview and south to Chatfield, making Eyota a stopping point for travelers on their way to other places. (Daily trains to Chatfield and Plainview left from the Eyota depot.) The railroad was an important local employer, The railroad later became the Chicago & North Western Railway.


In the fall of 1864 the rails laid from Winona reached Eyota Township where a town was platted near the middle of the township and also called “Eyota.” The name stems from an Indian word meaning superior or highest. Either the land was considered superior or it was realized the land was the highest point in Olmsted County, forming the beginning of Bear Creek and Whitewater watersheds.


White farmer settlers had begun arriving in the area and staking claims in 1854. The earliest, Benjamin Bear, initially came in 1853 to chose a prime site with an ever-flowing spring, then returned the following year with his family. A stream called Bear Creek starts from this spring. (Today Chester Woods Lake is formed around a portion of Bear Creek that was held back behind a dam built to protect nearby Rochester from flooding.)


Eyota streets were laid out on the farmland of Milo Matteson by investor Samuel E. Everett, a speculator from New York State. A downtown district, built only on the south side of the street, faced the busy railroad yard. A large hotel, frequented by business travelers, called the Everett House, was located along this street (South Front Street).


Charles P. Russell, another early investor, built a store on the corner of South Front Street and Center Avenue in 1865. Russell continued living in the community (whereas Mr. Everett soon moved on). He built a fine two-story home and bought grain from local farmers with his business partner O.H. Jackson. Years later, in 1910, Charles Russell partnered in the banking and mercantile businesses with his son, Fred Russell.


A whole line of stores flanked on the ends by the C.P Russell building and the Everett House faced the railroad depot and yard to the north. Establishments included hardware, lumber, wagon and harness makers, livery, drug store, general mercantile, hotels and several saloons.


The Village of Eyota was incorporated as a municipality in 1875 and officers were elected. A total of 108 votes were polled for a single councilman.


Some early milestones: 1866, Presbyterian Church organized; 1869, the Eyota Advertiser first published; 1875, a two-story cream colored brick school built; 1898, Eyota Creamery cooperative organized; 1900, Eyota Hospital built by Dr. R.C. Dugan; 1906, volunteer fire department established with 32 men.


Doctor Augustus Stinchfield was Eyota’s first medical doctor, who came to town after Eyota druggist E.D. Dyar invited him to visit. Both Stinchfield and Dyar once lived in Strong, Maine. Dr. Stinchfield built up an extensive practice, having another office in nearby St. Charles and using part of his home as a hospital. Stinchfield married Martha Bear, the daughter of early settler Benjamin Bear. He arrived in 1873 and left in 1892 when the Mayo's from Rochester convinced him to become the first non-family member to partner in their practice.


Dr. Rollo C. Dugan, the son of local settler Elijah Dugan, followed Stinchfield’s local practice. He built the Eyota Hospital, an eight-bed facility on Second Street in 1900.


The state census of 1905 stated the population was 400. Current population is approximately 2,000.