La Crosse, Wisconsin
La Crosse is a city in the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the county seat of La Crosse County. Positioned alongside the Mississippi River, La Crosse is the largest city on Wisconsin's western border. La Crosse's estimated population in 2019 was 51,227. The city forms the core of and is the principal city in the La Crosse Metropolitan Area, which includes all of La Crosse County and Houston County, Minnesota, for a population of 135,298.
|City of La Crosse|
Downtown La Crosse
Location of La Crosse in La Crosse County, Wisconsin.
|• Type||Mayor-council government|
|• Mayor||Tim Kabat (D)|
|• City||23.79 sq mi (61.61 km2)|
|• Land||21.70 sq mi (56.21 km2)|
|• Water||2.08 sq mi (5.40 km2)|
|Elevation||669 ft (204 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Rank||US: 609th|
|• Density||2,360.36/sq mi (911.34/km2)|
|• Urban||100,868 (US: 298th)|
|• Metro||136,934 (US: 297th)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (Central)|
54601, 54602, 54603
|GNIS feature ID||1567672|
|Airports||La Crosse Regional Airport|
A regional technology, medical, education, manufacturing, and transportation hub, companies based in the La Crosse area include Organic Valley, Logistics Health Incorporated, Kwik Trip, La Crosse Technology, City Brewing Company, and Trane. La Crosse is a college town with over 20,000 students and home to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Viterbo University, and Western Technical College.
The first Europeans to see the site of La Crosse were French fur traders who traveled the Mississippi River in the late 17th century. There is no written record of any visit to the site until 1805, when Lt. Zebulon Pike mounted an expedition up the Mississippi River for the United States. Pike recorded the location's name as "Prairie La Crosse". The name originated from the game with sticks that resembled a bishop's crozier or la crosse in French, which was played by Native Americans there.
The first white settlement at La Crosse occurred in 1841 when Nathan Myrick, a New York native, moved to the village at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin to work in the fur trade. Myrick was disappointed to find that because many fur traders were already well-entrenched there, there were no openings for him in the trade. As a result, he decided to establish a trading post upriver at the then still unsettled site of Prairie La Crosse. In 1841, he built a temporary trading post on Barron Island (now called Pettibone Park), which lies just west of La Crosse's present downtown. The following year, Myrick relocated the post to the mainland prairie, partnering with H. J. B. Miller to run the outfit.
The spot Myrick chose to build his trading post proved ideal for settlement. It was near the junction of the Black, La Crosse, and Mississippi Rivers. In addition, the post was built at one of the few points along the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River where a broad plain ideal for development existed between the river's bank and the tall bluffs that line the river valley. Because of these advantages, a small village grew around Myrick's trading post in the 1840s.
A small Mormon community settled at La Crosse in 1844, building several dozen cabins a few miles south of Myrick's post. Although these settlers relocated away from the Midwest after just a year, the land they occupied near La Crosse continues to bear the name Mormon Coulee.
On June 23, 1850, Father James Lloyd Breck of the Episcopal Church said the first Christian liturgy on top of Grandad Bluff. Today a monument to that event stands atop the bluff, near the parking lot at a scenic overlook.
More permanent development took place closer to Myrick's trading post, where stores, a hotel, and a post office were constructed during the 1840s. Under the direction of Timothy Burns, lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, surveyor William Hood platted the village in 1851. This opened it up for further settlement, which was achieved rapidly as a result of promotion of the city in eastern newspapers. By 1855, La Crosse had grown in population to nearly 2,000 residents, leading to its incorporation in 1856. The city grew even more rapidly after 1858 with the completion of the La Crosse & Milwaukee Railroad, the second railroad connecting Milwaukee to the Mississippi River.
During the second half of the 19th century, La Crosse grew to become one of the largest cities in Wisconsin. It was a center of the lumber industry, for logs cut in the interior of the state could be rafted down the Black River toward sawmills built in the city. La Crosse also became a center for the brewing industry and other manufacturers that saw advantages in the city's location adjacent to major transportation arteries, such as the Mississippi River and the railroad between Milwaukee and St. Paul, Minnesota. Around the turn of the 20th century, the city also became a center for education, with three colleges and universities established in the city between 1890 and 1912.
La Crosse remains the largest city on Wisconsin's western border, and the educational institutions in the city have recently led it toward becoming a regional technology and medical hub.
La Crosse is located on the western border of the midsection of Wisconsin, on a broad alluvial plain along the east side of the Mississippi River. The Black River empties into the Mississippi north of the city, and the La Crosse River flows into the Mississippi just north of the downtown area. Just upriver from its mouth, this river broadens into a marshland that splits the city into two distinct sections, north and south.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.54 square miles (58.38 km2), of which, 20.52 square miles (53.15 km2) is land and 2.02 square miles (5.23 km2) is water.
Surrounding the relatively flat prairie valley where La Crosse lies are towering 500-foot bluffs, one of the most prominent of which is Grandad Bluff (mentioned in Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain), which has an overlook of the three states region. This feature typifies the topography of the Driftless Area in which La Crosse sits. This rugged region is composed of high ridges dissected by narrow valleys called coulees, a French term. As a result, the area around La Crosse is frequently referred to as the "Coulee Region".
La Crosse's location in the United States' upper midwest gives the area a temperate, continental climate. The warmest month of the year is July, when the average high temperature is 84.1 °F (28.9 °C), with overnight low temperatures averaging 63.2 °F (17.3 °C). January is the coldest month, with high temperatures averaging 25.9 °F (−3.4 °C), with the overnight low temperatures around 8.9 °F (−12.8 °C).
|Climate data for La Crosse Regional Airport, Wisconsin (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1872–present)|
|Record high °F (°C)||57
|Mean maximum °F (°C)||45.4
|Average high °F (°C)||25.9
|Average low °F (°C)||8.9
|Mean minimum °F (°C)||−13.8
|Record low °F (°C)||−43
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||1.12
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||10.7
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||9.1||8.0||9.8||11.2||11.9||11.5||10.4||9.8||9.6||9.3||9.0||9.2||118.8|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||7.8||6.4||4.3||1.2||0||0||0||0||0||0.3||3.1||7.0||30.1|
|Average relative humidity (%)||72.8||72.2||70.6||64.2||65.0||69.5||72.1||75.2||77.2||71.3||75.4||77.3||71.9|
|Average dew point °F (°C)||7.5
|Source: NOAA (relative humidity and dew point 1961–1990)|
Neighborhoods and districtsEdit
La Crosse has 13 voting districts (wards). Neighborhoods in the city include:
- Historic Cass & King
- Historic downtown
- Northside (Upper and Lower) and Old Towne
- Grandview Emerson
- Weigent Hogan
- College Park (UW–La Crosse campus district)
- Springbrook Clayton Johnson
|U.S. Decennial Census|
According to 2013–2018 ACS estimates, the median household income was $43,516 and the median family income was $59,461. Males had a median income of $40,772 versus $33,325 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,282. About 10.1% of families and 23.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.7% of those under age 18 and 7.8% of those age 65 or over.
At the 2010 census, there were 51,320 people, 21,428 households and 9,691 families residing in the city. The population has density was 2,501.5 per square mile (965.6/km2). There were 22,628 housing units at an average density of 1,102.7 per square mile (425.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.8% White, 2.3% African American, 0.6% Native American, 4.9% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.4% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.0% of the population.
There were 21,428 households, of which 19.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.6% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 54.8% were non-families. 37.7% of all households were composed of individuals, and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.86.
16.2% of the population were under the age of 18, 26.5% from 18 to 24, 23.1% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.4 males.
La Crosse is the episcopal see for the Roman Catholic Diocese of La Crosse. The Cathedral of Saint Joseph the Workman is the mother church of the Diocese. St. Rose of Viterbo Convent, the mother house of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration is in La Crosse. The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is in La Crosse. Commissioned by Cardinal Raymond Burke while he was Bishop of La Crosse, it was designed by architect Duncan Stroik.
Protestant churches include Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Vineyard, Presbyterian, and independent.
The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod has five churches in La Crosse: First Lutheran Church, Grace Lutheran Church, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, and St. John's Lutheran Church.
The Congregation Sons of Abraham is in La Crosse.
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of La Crosse has held services since 1951.
Islamic Society Othman Bin Afaan is the city's Islamic mosque.
La Crosse is the home and current global headquarters of several corporations and organizations, including:
- Allergy Associates of La Crosse and Allergychoices, Inc., national allergy clinic and allergy services organization serving patients and providers across the U.S..
- Altra Federal Credit Union, La Crosse based credit union servicing eight states across the country
- City Brewing Company, former Heileman Old Style brewery
- Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare, regional health care network with flagship campus in La Crosse
- Gundersen Health System, nonprofit comprehensive health care network with flagship campus in La Crosse
- Kwik Trip, regional gas and convenience stores
- La Crosse Technology, atomic clocks and weather stations
- Marine Credit Union, credit union with branches in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa
Corporations founded and formerly headquartered in La Crosse include:
- Cargill, America's now largest privately held corporation founded in La Crosse
- LaCrosse Footwear, footwear company founded in 1897
- Trane, international air conditioning, acquired by Ingersoll-Rand in 2008
- Gundersen Health System
- Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare
- Kwik Trip
- La Crosse County
- School District of La Crosse
- University of Wisconsin–La Crosse
- Logistics Health Incorporated
- City of La Crosse
- Western Technical College
La Crosse and the surrounding communities form a regional commercial center and shopping hub. In the northeastern region of the city lies the area's largest shopping center, Valley View Mall. The surrounding area includes numerous big-box stores, and many restaurants. Other shopping centers in the La Crosse region include Three Rivers Plaza, Marsh View Center, Shelby Mall, Jackson Plaza, Bridgeview Plaza, and the Village Shopping Center. Downtown La Crosse has experienced significant growth in recent years, providing shopping, farmers' markets, hotels, restaurants, specialty shops, and events at La Crosse Center on the Mississippi River.
The La Crosse Center is a 10,000 seat multi-purpose indoor arena built in 1980 in downtown La Crosse on the Mississippi River. It is also a convention center offering 21,600 square feet (2,010 m2) of exhibit space, a 45-foot (14 m) ceiling height, a 60-by-40-foot stage, two locker rooms and three dressing rooms. There is also a 14,935-square-foot (1,388 m2) North Hall which can open up to be used in combination with the arena, and a 38,740-square-foot (3,599 m2) South Exhibit Hall. The three venues total 75,275 square feet (6,993 m2) of exhibit space. The complex also contains 9,432 square feet (876 m2) of meeting room space in five meeting rooms, which can be divided into nine meeting rooms.
While both exhibit halls and the arena are used for trade shows, conventions, meetings and banquets, the arena is also used for sporting events, concerts, circuses, ice shows, and other events.
Arts and cultureEdit
La Crosse has over 30 active arts organizations. The Pump House Regional Arts Center hosts visual arts exhibits throughout the year plus its own series of jazz, folk, and blues performers. The La Crosse Symphony is the city's regional orchestra and the La Crosse Community Theater has won both regional and national acclaim. The city is home to the Blue Stars Drum & Bugle Corps, a member of Drum Corps International. Other arts sites include Viterbo University Fine Arts building, UW–La Crosse Art Gallery and Theater, and the La Crosse Center, which hosts national performers. Local sculptor Elmer Petersen has created sculptures that are exhibited throughout the downtown area, including La Crosse Players and the Eagle in Riverside Park.
The La Crosse Loggers of the Northwoods League, play baseball at their home field at Copeland Park on the north side of La Crosse in the summer months. In 2017, the La Crosse Showtime began play in the American Basketball Association at La Crosse Center. In the past, the La Crosse Center has been home to the Catbirds and the Bobcats of the CBA, as well as the River Rats of the IFL, the Spartans of the IFL and the Night Train of the NIFL.
La Crosse is also home to the NCAA Division III University of Wisconsin–La Crosse (UW–L) Eagles. The university's 10,000 seat Veterans Memorial Field for football (turf field) and outdoor timed track opened in 2009. The stadium will continue to host the WIAA Wisconsin high school outdoor track and field state championships in June.
In the winter season, the Coulee Region Chill is a junior team in the North American 3 Hockey League at the Green Island Ice Arena. Additionally, Mt. La Crosse, the area's only ski hill, which opened in 1959, provides 18 slopes and trails. The ski hill is home to Damnation!, Mid-America's steepest trail.
Hunting and fishing are very popular all seasons of the year, and the Mississippi and other rivers, sloughs, creeks, lakes, the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife Refuge, and hilltops and valleys with public woodlands are available to sportsmen and families.
Parks and recreationEdit
Riverside Park is situated on the riverfront of downtown La Crosse near the Blue Bridges and across the river from Pettibone Park. It hosts events such as Riverfest, Fourth of July fireworks, Oktoberfest, and the Rotary Lights. The steamboats American Queen, La Crosse Queen, and Julia Belle Swain make stops along the river in the park. The park has walking/running trails.
The park was previously home to a large statue of a Native American which overlooked the convergence of three rivers: the Mississippi River, Black River, and the La Crosse River. The statue had been built with the intention of drawing tourism to the area and was based on a fictionalized version of Hiawatha, a 16th-century Native American chief who had no connection to local tribes. Long standing public debate about whether the statue was offensive or presented a caricature based on stereotypes of Native Americans eventually led to its removal in 2020, nearly 60 years after it was erected.
The city government employs a weak mayor form of the mayor-council system. The mayor is elected at-large, while the 13 members of the Common Council are elected per aldermanic districts. The mayor is Tim Kabat, a progressive.
Both the city and county of La Crosse have voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1988. In the 2016 Presidential Election, Hillary Clinton won by 52% of the City of La Crosse. In the 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama won 65% of the city of La Crosse and 58% of La Crosse County. In 2014, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ranked La Crosse as one of Wisconsin's top performing Democratic cities.
In the United States Congress, Democrat Ron Kind has represented La Crosse as part of Wisconsin's 3rd congressional district since 1997. The city is almost coterminous with the 95th Wisconsin State Assembly District and is represented by Democrat Jill Billings. Additionally, Democrat Steve Doyle currently represents suburban La Crosse County in the 94th Assembly District. La Crosse is part of the State Senate District 32 and is represented by Democrat Jennifer Shilling.
- Thomas Benton Stoddard (1856)
- Erasmus D. Campbell (1857)
- David Taylor (1858)
- James I. Lyndes (D) (1859)
- John M. Levy (1860)
- Wilson Colwell (1861)
- Albert W. Pettibone (1862–1864)
- William J. Lloyd (1865)
- John M. Levy (1866–1867)
- Theodore Rodolf (1868)
- Charles. L. Colman (1869)
- Theodore Rodolf (1870)
- Alexander McMillan (1871)
- James I. Lyndes (1872)
- Gysbert Van Steenwyk, Sr. (1873)
- Gilbert M. Woodward (1874)
- James J. Hogan (1875–1876)
- George Edwards (1877)
- David Law (1878–1879)
- Joseph Clark (1880)
- Hiram F. Smiley (1881)
- David Law (1882–1883)
- W. A. Roosevelt (1884)
- D. Frank Powell (1885–1886)
- David Austin (1887–1889)
- John Dengler (1889–1891)
- F. A. Copeland (1891-1893)
- D. Frank Powell (1893–1897)
- James McCord (1897–1899)
- W. A. Anderson (1899–1901)
- Joseph Boschert (1901–1903)
- William Torrance (1903–1907)
- Ori J. Sorenson (1909–1911)
- W. A. Anderson (1907-1909)
- Ori J. Sorenson (1909-1911)
- John Denger (1911-1913)
- Ori J. Sorenson (1913-1915)
- Arthur A. Bentley (1915–1923)
- Joseph J. Verchota (1923-1929)
- John E. Langdon (1929-1931)
- Joseph J. Verchota (1931-1935)
- C. August Boerner (1935-1939)
- Joseph J. Verchota (1939-1947)
- Charles A. Beranek (1947-1949)
- Henry J. Ahrens (1949–1955)
- Milo Knutson (1955–1965)
- Warren Loveland (1965–1971)
- W. Peter Gilbertson (1971–1975)
- Patrick Zielke (April 20, 1975 – April 15, 1997)
- John Medinger (April 15, 1997 – April 19, 2005)
- Mark Johnsrud (April 19, 2005 – April 21, 2009)
- Mathias Harter (April 21, 2009 – April 16, 2013)
- Tim Kabat (April 16, 2013 – present)
The La Crosse area is served by the School District of La Crosse, with an enrollment of 6,632 students in 2017, making it the 16th largest school district in the state. The district has 19 elementary, middle, high and charter schools. La Crosse Central High School and Logan High School are the two public high schools serving the La Crosse area. The La Crosse School District has 631 teachers.
Catholic private schools in La Crosse include La Crosse Aquinas Catholic Schools, a Roman Catholic school district affiliated with the Diocese of La Crosse, which is centered in the city and includes Aquinas High School and Aquinas Middle School. Another Roman Catholic school, the Providence Academy, is independent from the district and has no affiliation with the Diocese.
Lutheran private schools in La Crosse include First Lutheran School, Immanuel Lutheran School, and Mt. Calvary-Grace Lutheran School, which are part of the La Crosse Area Lutheran Schools organization and affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Luther High School is in Onalaska, Wisconsin.
La Crosse is the home of three regional colleges and universities, the public University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, Western Technical College, and the Roman Catholic Viterbo University. The Health Science Center is a combined effort of all the La Crosse medical centers, universities and government agencies to advance students in the medical fields.
La Crosse's largest newspaper is the daily La Crosse Tribune which serves the Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa regions. Free weekly tabloids include the Foxxy Shopper and the Buyer's Express. The Racquet is the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse's free weekly paper.
Coulee Parenting Connection is a magazine serving families in the La Crosse area. Coulee Region Women is a magazine serving the community.
|10.1||W34FC-D||NBC||KTTC 10||10.3||Heroes & Icons|
|KQEG-TV 23/51/Cable 5|
|30.1||WEAU-DRT||NBC||WEAU 13 News||30.2
Heroes & Icons
|AM radio stations|
|1410 AM||WIZM||News talk 1410||News/Talk|
|1490 AM||WLXR||Eagle 1490||Oldies|
|1560 AM||WKBH||Relevant Radio||Catholic|
|FM radio stations|
|88.9 FM||WLSU||Wisconsin Public Radio||Classic|
|90.3 FM||WHLA||Wisconsin Public Radio||NPR|
|91.1 FM||KXLC||Minnesota Public Radio||NPR|
|News talk 1410||News/Talk|
|93.3 FM||WIZM||Z93.3||Top 40 (CHR)|
|94.5 FM||WTMB||Classic Rock 94.5||Classic rock|
|94.7 FM||KCLH||Classic Hits 94.7||Classic Hits|
|95.7 FM||WRQT||95.7 The Rock||Active Rock|
|96.1 FM||WXYM||Mix 96.1||Hot AC|
|97.1 FM||WCOW||Cow 97.1 Country||Country|
|The Prayz Network||Christian|
|98.9 FM||WVCX||VCY America||Christian|
|100.1 FM||WLCW||K-Love||Christian Contemporary|
|101.1 FM||KRIV||Soft Rock 101.1||Soft AC|
|102.7 FM||WKBH-FM||102.7 WKBH||Classic Rock|
|104.9 FM||WGSL||Prayz Network||Christian Contemporary|
|105.5 FM||WFBZ||105.5 ESPN||Sports|
|106.3 FM||WQCC||Kicks 106.3||Country|
|Mix 96.1||Hot AC|
The La Crosse Regional Airport, located on French Island, provides direct scheduled passenger service to Minneapolis, Detroit, and Chicago through Delta Air Lines link Endeavor Air, as well as American Airlines link Envoy Air. Sun Country and Xtra Airways provide charter service to Laughlin, Elko, Nevada, and other destinations. The airport also serves general aviation for the La Crosse region.
The city is served by several major highways and Interstate, including Interstate 90, U.S. Highway 14, U.S. Highway 53, U.S. Highway 61, Wisconsin State Highway 35, Wisconsin State Highway 16, Wisconsin State Highway 33.
The Mississippi River Bridge, also known as the Cass St. bridge and the newer Cameron Street bridge (photo with blue arch) both connect downtown La Crosse with La Crescent, Minnesota. These two bridges cross the Mississippi River, as does the Interstate 90 bridge located just northwest of La Crosse, connecting Wisconsin and Minnesota.
In 2012, the City of La Crosse was the first city in Wisconsin to pass a Green Complete Streets ordinance. This ordinance requires that when roads are reconstructed the needs of stormwater management and the safety of bicycles and pedestrians are taken into account in the new design.
Railroad tracks owned by Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) pass through La Crosse providing freight service. The former Milwaukee and La Crosse Railroad/Milwaukee Road/Soo Line and now Canadian Pacific Railway runs through the city as well. It provides the track on which the La Crosse Amtrak station is located, served daily by the Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle or Portland.
La Crosse's tap drinking water, which is raised from a deep underground Artesian aquifer, won the best natural tasting water award in September 2007 in a statewide tasting competition hosted by the Wisconsin Water Association. The city competed against groundwater and surface water utilities from Algoma, Appleton, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Pell Lake, Shawano, Shawano Lake and Watertown at the annual meeting of the association. La Crosse's drinking water is pumped from deep ground wells to a distribution center and is treated with chlorine and fluoride; some wells are also treated with polyphosphate.
Gundersen Health System is a nationally ranked health care system located in La Crosse that is also an ACS nationally certified Level II Trauma Center. It is the primary hospital associated with the Gundersen Clinic medical group and the location of the Western campus for the University of Wisconsin Medical School. With its main campus located in La Crosse, the system also manages 23 locations throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa with nearly 6,000 employees. In 2014, Gundersen Health received the Healthgrades America's 50 Best Hospitals™ designation, placing the system among the top 1 percent of hospitals nationwide.
Mayo Clinic Health System - Franciscan Healthcare is an affiliate of the Mayo Clinic. Franciscan Skemp, which was the first western Wisconsin hospital to open its doors in 1883 as St. Francis Hospital, was started by the Catholic Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, who still are associated with the medical center. In 1995, Franciscan Skemp merged with Mayo Clinic Health Systems in Rochester, Minnesota, located only 60 miles away. A new trauma and emergency department, helicopter pad, and surgery wing recently opened in 2007.
The Health Science Center, located on the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse campus, is a combined effort of both medical centers, UW–La Crosse, Viterbo University, Western College, the School District of La Crosse, and various government educational groups. The purpose was to prepare and train students for advancement in the medical field.
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The proclamation came a little over a month after Kabat apologized for La Crosse's history as a 'sundown town,' a city or village with either formal or informal codes that pushed black people out of the community after sundown, after a presentation from sociologist James Loewen at La Crosse City Hall. Loewen was invited by the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and the city's Human Rights Commission.
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- "Our History - Cargill". www.cargill.com.
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