Mankato is located in Blue Earth County and it is the county seat. It lies in the Historic Prairies Region, where US 14 meets US 169, on the banks of the Minnesota River.
Mankato was originally called Mahkato, meaning greenish-blue earth, by the Dakota Indians. In the 1700s, the first Europeans passed through Mankato, seeking the Northwest Passage to the Far East. In 1852, Parsons K. Johnson and Henry Jackson staked the first claims in Mankato. The city has endured high water several times because of its river locale.
The 2000 Census pegs Mankato's population at 32,427. The city's top three employers are Immanuel St. Joseph's Mayo Health System, Minnesota State University Mankato and Taylor Corporation. Attractions include the Guns of the Pioneers Old West Gun Museum, Judge Lorin P. Cray Mansion, a Queen Anne-style home circa 1898; and the Carnegie Art Center, featuring regional artists. The area also offers recreational trails. The Mankato area offers biking, snowmobile and hiking trails.