Nestled on Hwy 12, west of the Twin Cities, is the city of Cokato—a safe and welcoming community for all. Currently home to approximately 2,739 residents, Cokato has evolved from its agricultural roots by expanding its industry and business. Its numerous organizations, places of worship, and volunteer-run events, such as the annual Corn Carnival, point towards a community that values public service.
Prior to the first Yankee settlement in 1858, the Dakota once visited the forested land around Cokato, making temporary camps near Cokato Lake. Their influence in this area still resides in the city’s name, as Cokato is based on the Dakota word co-ka-ta which roughly means “in the midst” or “in the middle”.
Cokato owes its eventual incorporation in 1878 to the railroad, which first arrived in 1869. The railroad not only brought goods, business, industry, and accessibility, but also a large number of immigrant families. These early settlers were primarily from Sweden and Finland but a few also hailed from Norway, Germany, and Poland. To this day, Cokato is still comprised of a large number of Scandinavian and Finnish descendants.
Valuing its history and education, the people of Cokato have continued to support its excellent schools, community education, public library, and museum for over 90 years. Cokato is also home to the Gust Akerlund Photography Studio, the community’s National Register Historic Site.
In addition to these institutions, Cokato boasts wonderful parks, trails, community pool, Performing Arts Center, and outdoor ice rink—establishing a real quality of life for Cokato’s residents. As a result of the community’s efforts, in 2010 Bloomberg Businessweek dubbed Cokato as “The Best Place to Raise Your Kids.”
If you’re driving through Cokato on Hwy 12, please stop in and visit. You may just have found a new place to call home.
Cokato in the late 1800s
Cokato Community Pool
Corn Carnival 2019
Photos courtesy of the Cokato Museum