Gibbon is a railroad town, incorporated in 1887. It was named after General John Gibbon, of Civil War fame. First settlers to this area arrived around 1865. By 1900, our city had grown to a population of 545. We now number 810 very respectable citizens and one or two people who are not quite as respectable.
At one time there were as many as seven saloons in Gibbon, four car dealerships, and three grocery stores. The old Gibbon City Hall, which is on the National Historic Register, was constructed in 1895. It is currently undergoing a lengthy process of restoration.
Like many Minnesota cities, Gibbon is largely composed of the descendents of German and Scandinavian immigrants. Not surprisingly, they liked to dance. For decades Gibbon has been the sight of one of the most renowned Polka Festivals in the entire country. When Garrison Keillor held his “Prairie Home Companion Show” here, in the late 90's he announced that the city of Gibboin had more hard maple flooring per capita than any place in the world, and he was likely correct. Susan Sarandon, the actress, narrated a public television special about the ballroom.
Unfortunately, people don’t dance anymore, not like they used to. The ballroom closed its doors a few years ago.
But people do other things. We have the nicest library in the county. Our beautiful city park has been refurbished. Our town baseball team doesn’t win very often, but we have the highest crowd attendance in Southern Minnesota. We have three churches in the city limits, and three reverends praying that we will have a winning season. There’s hope.
On Friday evenings in the summer, The Gibbon Band of Renown gives free concerts in the park, just as it has done since time began. We are down to three saloons. There is an old city ordinance which bans women in taverns after ten PM. It would be an awkward ordinance to enforce, in this day and age, since all three of our taverns are owned by women.
If you’re a stranger here, you won’t be for long. Give us three days, and we’ll know how you like your eggs done, when you walk your dog, what brand of beer you like, and, more importantly, what type of card games you play.
Welcome to Gibbon.