Agriculture and Industries
Wheat, corn, soybeans, and Alfalfa are the major crops in Big Stone County. There are about 400 farms in the county. Fifteen of them are dairy farms, about 25 raise hogs and 35 have beef cow herds. Area quarries mine granite, which is locally cut and polished, is sold both wholesale and retail. 7-Up Bottling Company, now Pepsi Cola Distributing, began operation in 1892.
Ortonville’s 18 hole golf course, Graceville’s 9 hole golf course, Toqua Park, Big Stone State Park, Bonanza State Park, and Education Center, MinnKota Archery Range, Big Stone Federal Wildlife Refuge, and several campgrounds and resorts are just a few of the recreational opportunities available in Big Stone County. Hunting and fishing are favorite multi-season activities for residents and visitors. Snowmobiling is growing in popularity as the number of miles of groomed trails increases yearly.
The first board of county commissioners, in September 1874, established the first six school districts. In 1876 there was an enrollment of 11 with a daily attendance of eight. By 1879 the number of school districts had increased to 15, the number of schools and districts, as well as enrollment, increased rapidly, so that for the year 1885 the number of districts was 47 and the enrollment was 1,061 in summer and 983 in winter. At present Big Stone County taxpayers support 4 school districts.
Until July 1, 1957, Big Stone County was one of six counties constituting the 16th Judicial District of the State of Minnesota. One judge served that district. At the general election in November 1956, the voters of this state adopted Constitutional Amendment No. 1. One of the provisions of that amendment provided that there should be no judicial district in the state with less than two judges. The legislature decided to combine certain judicial districts rather than to re-carve the state into new judicial districts. The 16th Judicial District was combined with the 12th Judicial District forming the 6th Judicial District. As of July 1, 1959, the state was divided into 10 Judicial Districts and the 6th Judicial District became the 8th Judicial District of the state, but the counties in the 6th Judicial District and the number of judges in the district remained the same. A court was established in Big Stone County when it was declared organized in 1881. At present, the judges of the 8th Judicial District serve Big Stone County.