Winona has been home to many peoples ever since the first Native Americans hunted mammoths and mastodons 12,000 years ago. The Dakota and Ho-Chunk lived here until the 1850s. The Dakota called it "Keoxa," or homeland. Their word "wenonah" means "first-born daughter."
Sawmills drove Winona's first economic boom from the 1850s to 1900, as huge pine log rafts floated downriver from northern Wisconsin. German, Polish and Irish immigrants powered the prosperity of the era, which can be seen in the varied architecture of the city — homes, churches, the courthouse and commercial buildings downtown. Winona's architecture is regarded as the most interesting between Galena, Ill., and St. Paul, Minn.
Winona is rich in public land, largely due to the contributions of a successful wholesale grocer, John A. Latsch, Jr. (1860-1934). After he was refused shelter by a private landowner while canoeing on the river during a rainstorm, he bought 18,000 acres of river bottom and bluffland, and gave it all to two states, several cities and the federal government in the 1920s, so open spaces along the river would remain open for people to enjoy.
The first teachers' college west of the Mississippi was established in Winona in 1858. It became the nucleus for Winona State University. Winona is also the home of Saint Mary's University of Minnesota and Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical.
Panel created with generous support from: Winona State University — A Community of Learners Dedicated to Improving Our World · Elizabeth Callender King Foundation · The Jefferson Family · The John Latsch Board · The Winona Community Foundation.