Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but not in these four counties-- because there aren't ANY lakes at all!

Even though I was born and raised behind the Cheddar Curtain over in Wisconsin, I've been a fully naturalized Minnesotan for a dozen years already. But I was a little surprised to stumble on this piece of Minnesota trivia recently. It started when I was talking about The 10 Things Minnesotans Are Too Nice To Brag About with a former coworker who's from Minnesota but now lives out in California.

He mentioned that Olmsted County was the only Minnesota county to NOT have any natural lakes. What?!? Is this true, I wondered? I turned to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the answer. And, as it turns out, my friend was only partly correct.

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While it's true that Olmsted County doesn't have any natural lakes, the home of Minnesota's third-largest city (that'd be Rochester, btw) isn't the only county where that's the case. There are three other Minnesota counties who are in that same boat (though that's tough to do, because they don't have any lakes.)

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Every one of Minnesota's other 83 counties has at least one naturally occurring lake 10 acres or larger. But not in the following four counties:

  • Olmsted County (in southeast Minnesota)
  • Mower County (along Minnesota's southern border with Iowa)
  • Pipestone County (on Minnesota's western border with South Dakota)
  • Rock County (just south of Pipestone County, in the very southwest corner of Minnesota)

Of course, some of those counties DO have some lake-like bodies of water, however. According to this Rochester Water Primer, Olmsted County has six reservoirs created by dams. Plus, Olmsted County is also home to Silver Lake in downtown Rochester, plus Cascade Lake, Foster Arend Lake and Chester Lake at Chester Woods Park.

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Even part of Lake Zumbro is in Olmsted County (along with Wabasha County.) There's the pond/water feature at Quarry Hill Nature Center in Rochester too. But those are all manmade bodies of water.

When it comes to natural lakes, Olmsted County has bupkis. Compare that to Otter Tail County (about 4 and a half hours northwest of Rochester in west-central Minnesota), which has 1,048 naturally occurring lakes. That impressive total is the most of any county not just here in Minnesota, but in the entire United States. Impressive!

Perhaps you already knew about the lack of natural lakes in these four Minnesota counties. But just how well do you know your other obscure facts about the North Star State? Keep scrolling to see how many of these facts about Minnesota you know.

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10 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Minnesota