The original plat of Winona is located on a sand bar of the Mississippi River, and surrounded by river bottoms and wooded bluff-lands. Evidence gathered by archaeologists indicates that people lived in the valley as early as 9500 B.C.
Winona was settled by non-Native Americans in 1851, and the town was laid out into lots in 1852. The population increased from 815 in December, 1855, to 3,000 in December, 1856. In 1860 Winona had a population of 2,456, and was third largest city in Minnesota until the late 1880’s.