Town Days Tour 2013 Madelia



  • The City of Madelia was founded on September 10, 1857 by a group of investors.
  • Madelia is in Watonwan County on Highways 15 and 60. It is near the Watonwan River and Fedji Lake.
  • Madelia was established by 5 men who bought the rights to a section along the Watonwan River. Philander Hartshorn, David Haire, Leander Sheppard, Stephan Benjamin, and James Hudson originally named the new town “Wacapa.” Within a year the name was changed to Madelia in honor of Hartshorn’s deceased teenage daughter.
  • Joseph Flanders is often referred to as “The Father of Madelia” because of his great influence on the community. He was responsible for the major construction and development of the town, including the original courthouse.
  • A legislative act in 1860 designated the County of Watonwan, and named Madelia as the county seat. In 1878 the county seat was moved to St. James.
  • An infamous band of bank robbers, the Younger Brothers, were captured just west of Madelia at the sites of Fort Cox, Fort Slocum, and Fort Hill, as well as at the Ashippum Post Office, which was the 1st post office in Watonwan County. The completely restored and furnished post office is on display in the city park.
  • Madelia’s population grew rapidly in the city’s first few decades. Much of this growth is attributed to the construction of Fort Cox during the 1862 Sioux Uprising, as well as the coming of the railroad. Madelia lay on the main line which ran from Minneapolis to Omaha, encouraging many settlers and businessmen to establish themselves there.
  • Madelia is home to the Warren Truss Bridge, believed to be the oldest of this type of bridge in the state.
  • A relatively famous artist, Marion Anderson, is from Madelia.


  • Madelia Pubic School is one of the larger employers in town. When they are paired with Truman Schools in some sports, they are known as the Jayhawks. For Madelia basketball and volleyball, the mascot is the Blackhawks.
  • The primary focus of industry in Madelia is agriculture and agri-business. Two examples of this are the LaSalle Farmer’s Grain Company in Madelia, and Tony Downs Foods, which packages canned and frozen food.
  • Some other important businesses in Madelia include: printing companies House of Print and Preferred Print, Gopher Concrete, and Forstner Fire Apparatus, which makes custom-built fire engines utilized by fire departments across the country.
  • Health care is also an important industry in Madelia. Examples include: Madelia Community Hospital, which has received numerous state and national honors for their health care and employment practices, Luther Memorial Home, an assisted living facility, and the “Between The Bridges” Health Care Center.
  • The largest employer in the City of Madelia completed major upgrades in 2005. Tony Downs Foods added a new reception area and offices and expanded their production lines. The facility is capable of capping 600 cans per minute.
  • The Madelia Community Hospital was found to be in the top 8% nationwide of facilities that help reduce hospitalization. The study was conducted with over 7,500 Medicare agencies in the United States.

Festivals & Events

  • Madelia’s big summer celebration is “Park Days.” The annual festival is always held the weekend after the 4th of July in Madelia’s Watona Park. Park Days features numerous forms of stage entertainment including music and comedy acts as well as special interest shows. There’s plenty of food and drink too, of course, and lots of other fun activities.
  • Madelia celebrates the capture of a notorious band of bank robbers every year. The Younger Brothers Capture event features a re-enactment of the capture, as well as a family barn dance, an all-city auction, and plenty of food and other activities. The Younger Brothers Capture takes place in September.
  • Madelia lights up the night and celebrates the holiday season with the Razzle Dazzle Light-Up Parade. This parade of lights through downtown Madelia is wildly popular and takes place the Friday before Thanksgiving.
  • Madelians open up their homes to the public once a year during the Tour of Homes. The tour takes place in November.


  • The Mayor of Madelia is Michael Grote and the population is around 2,400.
  • A new world record was set in 2010 during Madelia’s Park Days celebrations. Ryan Guyer of Madelia broke the record for wearing the most t-shirts at one time, making it all the way to 233 shirts in just an hour and a half. That breaks the record of 227 t-shirts at one time set by a Swedish man in 2007. Guyer had to go up to a size 6XL t-shirt in order to squeeze into the 233 shirts for the Guinness Book of World Records.
  • In 2010, Scott Melzer of Madelia won $100,000 playing a Minnesota Lottery scratch-game. Scott won playing the $5 Bucks and Ducks scratch-off that he purchased at the HyVee Gas Station on South Broadway in New Ulm.
  • A Madelia woman appeared on the television game show “The Price is Right” in January of 2012. Nichole Olson’s hobby of collecting furniture came to her aid when her name was called to be on “Contestant’s Row.” She not only got the price right on the item up for bid, but guessed the price exactly. She then went on to victory in the “Now and Then” game to win a trip to Cancun, and got to spin the big wheel for a chance at the showcase showdown.
  • A Madelia woman was named the president of the Minnesota Women of Today in 2012. Nicky Anderson has been a member of the Madelia chapter of the Women of Today for over 10 years. She was the 63rd president of the state chapter of the Women of Today, which focuses on community service, personal growth, and building friendships. 
  • Madelia held the 16th annual celebration of the capture of the Younger Brothers Gang in 2012. Younger Brothers Committee President Bob Yourcheck says that the gang of criminals from the 1800s were the terrorists of their day. The events celebrating the Younger Brothers capture include a bank robbery re-enactment as well as the capture itself, which actually took place near LaSalle.
  • Madelia High School crowned Homecoming Royalty in October of 2012. Named Madelia Homecoming King was David Streit, and crowned Homecoming Queen was Chalina Whitney.
  • Governor Mark Dayton announced in October of 2012 that the Third Annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener in 2013 will be held in the City of Madelia, which is the self-proclaimed “Pheasant Capitol of Minnesota.” The Governor’s Pheasant Opener takes place in October.


Click on the title below to listen to the Town Days Podcasts