Northfield is located in southern Minnesota, on the northern edge of Rice County. Just minutes east of I-35, the city is less than an hour’s commute from either Minneapolis or St. Paul.
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A lot of small towns would love to have one well-respected small college within its borders. Despite having a population of just over 20,000, Northfield definitely has bragging rights in that area, with both Carleton and St. Olaf colleges calling it home. The two schools serve more than 5,000 students and employ hundreds of faculty and staff members. Forbes Magazine ranked Carleton as the 15th-best college or university in the United States in 2011.
The city maintains 35 parks, which cover more than 400 acres. And the Carleton College Cowling Arboretum — covering 880 acres and located adjacent to the school — offers extensive trails for walking in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter.
The city’s biggest claim to fame, however, is probably a run-in with a group of notorious outlaws in the 1870s. On Sept. 7, 1876, the James-Younger Gang tried to rob the First National Bank of Northfield. Local citizens banded together to prevent the theft, an event that is celebrated every year in the Defeat of Jesse James Days.
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