The City of Waverly, as it appears today, is a culmination of people and places which have created a unique Minnesota community with nearly 150 years of history.



The framework for the City of Waverly began in 1855, when the territorial legislature passed an act organizing Wright County.   A survey team was sent out shortly after by the government to plat the new county’s divisions.   These surveyors were greeted by established homesteaders who had already begun clearing the land and planting crops.   Prior to European settlement, Waverly was predominantly Big Woods which included a mixture of oak, maple, basswood and hickory.   Small portions of wet prairie existed on the eastern edge of Waverly Lake and along the western edge of present day CSAH 8.

Impressed with the two lakes (Waverly and Little Waverly), available water power and the proximity of the Crow River one mile north, an entrepreneurial surveyor and his partners constructed a dam, saw mill and grist mill in 1856 at the outlet of Little Waverly Lake.   The settlement known as Waverly Mills was beginning to take shape, as approximately three hundred acres were surveyed and platted.  Waverly Mills was given its name after a community in Tioga County, New York, the former home of one of the partners.   After a rough start with a bank panic, financial crash and subsequent grasshopper infestations, Waverly Mills managed to survive.   Its saw and grist milling industry help to establish a store, post office and log church with a cemetery at this location.

The St. Paul and Pacific [later Great Northern Railway and currently Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway] railroad reached this area of Wright County in 1869.   That same year, Waverly Station was formally organized.  The community’s early focus at the outlet of Little Waverly Lake transferred to the depot building which was constructed near the present day location of the City of Waverly one mile away.   The railroad company platted Waverly Station on their land in the southwest quarter of Section 33.   Until incorporation in 1881, the village remained under township jurisdiction and it took approximately ten additional years for complete severance from the township.   The community’s name was changed once again in 1899, this time simply to Waverly.

The prosperity of Waverly in those early days was aided by both railroad traffic and by patronage of the surrounding settlers in Woodland and Marysville Townships.  Many of these early farmers hailed from various parts of the United States, French Canada and European countries specifically from Sweden, Ireland, Germany, Prussia, Austria and Switzerland.  These pioneers supported Waverly's many institutions which included a post office, bank, newspapers, city hall, churches, creamery, school, grain elevators, flouring mills, saw mill, insurance agencies, hotels, livery stables, general stores, hardware dealers, furniture shops, lumber companies, bakery, meat markets, millinery shops, saloons and a drugstore to name just a few.


Waverly moved faster and progressed farther in 30 years than some its rival communities. Some claim that Waverly’s businesses and buildings were some of the largest and finest in Wright County at their height of development.   One historical account stated that Waverly, “is a pleasant, prosperous village, located on one of the very pleasant lakes; it is quite a summer resort for pleasure seekers….”   Records indicate that by 1909, the population of Waverly had expanded to over 1,000 residents.

Since its incorporation in 1869, Waverly has changed both physically and demographically. Like many similar rural communities of greater Minnesota, Waverly has felt the documented socio-economic effects of industrialized agriculture, rural exodus of young residents to regional urban cores and aging population.   Waverly hosted some small development in the 1930s and 40s and a small subdivision in the early 1960s.  But by 1980, Waverly’s population had decreased to 470 persons.    Direct results of this rural trend were merging, consolidating or vanishing institutions and businesses.

As many small communities – especially those near a large metropolitan area - Waverly has entered a period of transition and metamorphosis  from one completely dependent upon agriculture to one that is more residential in nature.   The grain elevators that once identified Waverly are gone, and new residential housing developments have appeared.   The Twin Cities Metropolitan Area that once seemed distant is now an easy commute for many. 

From 2000 to 2007, Waverly attracted the attention of residential developers that resulted in a housing boom.  Several developments were platted including; Summerfields, Woodland Shores, Spring Meadows, Carrigan Meadows, Carrigan Estates and Windgate at Carrigan Lake.   The population increased by over 60 percent between 2000 and 2010 to just over 1,300.  From 2010 to 2014, Waverly experienced the effects of the housing slowdown, but building resumed – at a slower pace – in 2015.   Several new commercial businesses  have made Waverly their home since 2010, but, as in many small cities,  retail business has declined.  As the City approaches its 150th Anniversary (in 2019), there is much opportunity for future growth, both for new residencies and for new business and industry, but Waverly will strive to maintain its small town appeal.

*Adapted in part from the 2010 Waverly Comprehensive City and Parks Plan.