Winona County is a county in the U.S. state of Minnesota. As of the 2018 census, its estimated population was 50,825. Its county seat is Winona.
Winona County lies on Minnesota’s border with Wisconsin and is part of the driftless area that defines southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa, southwestern Wisconsin and northwestern Illinois. The Mississippi, flowing south-southeast, defines the county’s eastern border. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (St. Paul District) maintains the lock and dam system in this region.
The Whitewater River flows north-northeast through the northwest part of the county toward its discharge into the Mississippi just above Winona County. The eastern part of the county is drained into the Mississippi by east-flowing streams including Rollingstone Creek, Garvin Brook, Cedar Creek, and Big Trout Creek. The county terrain consists of low rolling hills with the east portion particularly etched by drainages, and lightly sprinkled with lakes. The land is devoted to agriculture where possible. The terrain slopes to the south and east, with its highest point at 1,365′ (416m) ASL on a hill two miles (3 km) east of Wilson. The county has a total area of 642 square miles (1,660 km), of which 626 square miles (1,620 km) is land and 15 square miles (39 km) (2.4%) is water.
Within Minnesota, Winona County borders Wabasha County, Olmsted County, Fillmore County and Houston County.
As of the 2018 estimate of Winona County population, there were 50,825 residents. The racial makeup of the county was 94% White, 1% African American, 2% Asian, 2% Hispanic or Latino, below 1% from other races, and 1% from two or more races. The male population constituted 49% of the total.
As of the 2000 United States Census, there were 49,985 people, 18,744 households, and 11,696 families in the county. The population density was 79.8/sqmi (30.8/km²). There were 19,551 housing units at an average density of 31.2/sqmi (12.1/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 95.80% White, 0.77% Black or African American, 0.19% Native American, 1.87% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.53% from other races, and 0.81% from two or more races. 1.37% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 41.8% were of German, 13.9% Norwegian, 9.9% Polish and 7.4% Irish ancestry.
There were 18,744 households out of which 30.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.30% were married couples living together, 7.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.60% were non-families. 28.20% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.04.
The county population contained 22.80% under the age of 18, 18.60% from 18 to 24, 25.10% from 25 to 44, 20.50% from 45 to 64, and 13.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 95.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.80 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $38,700, and the median income for a family was $49,845. Males had a median income of $31,926 versus $23,406 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,077. About 5.60% of families and 12.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.80% of those under age 18 and 9.30% of those age 65 or over.
In 2016, Winona County planning commissioners voted to approve new permits for existing commercial dog breeding operations, also known as “puppy mills”, despite overwhelming evidence of animal cruelty and neglect. Due to the high number of kennels in the county, Winona county has earned the dubious title “Puppy Mill Capital of Minnesota”.