Steele County, Minnesota, was officially organized February 20, 1855 and originally included what is now known as Waseca County. Re-organization in 1856 established the boundaries we recognize today. The new county was named in honor of Franklin Steele, a St. Anthony governmental contractor and a man of prominence. Steele County is located in the south-eastern part of Minnesota, has 432 square miles, is 24 miles long and 18 miles wide.
The first county building, built in 1874 at a cost of $5,000, was a one-story brick building which has since been demolished. The historic Steele County Courthouse was built in 1891 for $50,000. It has been remodeled several times and is used solely by the courts. Two courtrooms and one hearing room are available, as well as meeting rooms and office space.
In 1860 Steele County had a population of 2,863 as compared to 21,155 in 1950 and 36,163 as of the 2006 census.
Steele County has numerous streams, natural springs, brooks and lakes. The largest of the streams is the Straight River and the largest lake is Rice lake. Nine mineral springs are located in Owatonna, in an area known as Mineral Springs Park. These springs have been analyzed and show the definite qualities of celebrated springs of this country and France.