Newport's roots can be traced to the early settlement on the Mississippi River, south of where Interstate-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.
From 1839 to 1843, the settlement was known as Kaposia. John Ford, one of the area's first residents, renamed it Red Rock. Red Rock referred to a painted rock along the Mississippi River. About one and a half miles downstream from Red Rock, the settlement of Newport began and was organized in 1858, eight years after Minnesota became a territory.
Settlements at Red Rock and Newport were separate communities. Newport had a sawmill, feed and flour mill, and shipping facilities. Red Rock Township was the forerunner of Woodbury. In 1859, Red Rock officials chose the name Woodbury, and so a portion of Newport was actually part of its neighbor. In 1861, Washington County commissioners required Woodbury to turn over the land containing the painted red rock to Newport Township.
In 1868, religious camp meetings were started in Newport and continued for 69 consecutive summers. Thousands attended the camps. Two major businesses began operation in 1920, the Farmer's Terminal State Bank and Meat Packing Company. More jobs came in the late 1980s when Northern States Power Company built a refuse-derived fuel plant near the Wakota Bridge.
Newport is also home to south Washington County's first shopping center. George Fisher and Robert North opened the Highway-61 Shopping Center, now known as Newport Center, on January 1, 1953. For more information on the history of Newport, 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.