The City of Newport is committed to preserving and protecting historical landmarks, sites, and resources that represent distinctive and significant elements of the City of Newport's historic, cultural, architectural, social, economic, archaeological, and cultural heritage. The City aspires to foster civic pride in the accomplishments of the past, protect the town's attractiveness to visitors, and promote the use of historical pieces for the education, pleasure, and welfare of the City's residents.
Click here to learn more about one of the historical sites in Newport, the Kavanaugh Log Cabin.
History of Newport:
If the Minnesota Legislature had not issued an order in 1859, folks living north of 17th Street might now be living in Woodbury.
Newport's roots can be traced to the early settlement on the Mississippi River, south of where Interestate-494 now runs. Its first residents were missionaries who came to minister to Dakota tribes in the area.
Settlement along the Mississippi River and St. Croix rivers became possible when a treaty with the Ojibwa and Dakota tribal groups sold the land between the rivers in 1837. Lumber interests attracted the first settlers. However, actual settlers didn't flood the frontier; they trickled in.
From 1839 to 1843, the settlement was known as Kaposia. John Ford, one of the Newport area's first residents, renamed it Red Rock, which refers to a painted rock, which now sits on the Newport United Methodist Church site.
About one and a half miles downstream from Red Rock, the settlement of Newport began. The township of Newport was organized in 1858, eight years after Minnesota became a territory. It extended through what is now St. Paul Park and Grey Cloud Island Township to the Mississippi River.
Settlements at Red Rock and Newport were separate communities. Newport had a sawmill, feed and flour mill and shipping facilities for produce from the farms.
Red Rock Township was the forerunner of Woodbury. In 1859, Red Rock officials chose the name Woodbury, and so, for a while, a portion of Newport was actually part of its neighbor.
In 1861, Washington County commissioners ordered Woodbury to turn over "that fraction (of land) containing the painted rock" to Newport Township. The addition extended Newport's northern boundary to the edge of Ramsey County, as it is today.
In 1868, religious camp meetings were started in Newport and continued for 69 consecutive summers. Thousands attended the camps and as many as 200 tents sprang up on the Red Rock Camp Ground.
Two major businesses began operation simultaneously at Red Rock in 1920, the Farmer's Terminal State Bank and the Farmer's Terminal Meat Packing Company. The meat packing plant eventually had 800 employees. More jobs came in the late 1980's, when Northern States Power Company built a $25 million refuse-derived fuel plant near the Wakota Bridge.
Newport is also home to south Washington County's first shopping center. George Fisher, a grocer, and Robert North, a pharmacist, opened the Highway-61 Shopping Center, now known as Newport Center, on January 1, 1953.
For more historical information, please visit the Minnesota Historical Society's and Washington County Historical Society's websites. The Minnesota Digital Library also has several resources for digitization and metadata.