The town of Bigelow was the third community to come into existence in Nobles County. The first two were Worthington and Brewster.
All three towns appeared on the map in 1871, though Bigelow remained
nothing more than that - a spot on a map - until the spring of 1872,
when the tracks of the St. Paul & Sioux City Railway reached the
site of the present-day town. Throughout the summer of 1872, the site
was occupied only by a large tent which furnished shelter for the
construction crew. A railroad depot was constructed in September 1872,
and Mr. S. O. Morse assumed duties as station agent. He went into
partnership with a man named Frothingham, and the two established a
small grocery store in the depot. This was the only business
established in 1872.
Even before railroad tracks had reached
present-day Bigelow, the town's future name had been decided. It was
named after Charles H. Bigelow.
He was also a director of the St. Paul & Sioux City Railway, and
the board decided to flatter him by naming a new town after him. Bigelow Township
was also named after Mr. Bigelow. There is no record of Charles
Bigelow visiting the town that bears his name, though it is likely he
passed through on the railroad that he helped to create.
The townsite was platted and a
dedication was made on September 24, 1873. Two new business came to
town in 1873. S. D. Tinnes opened a general merchandise store and John
DeBoos and John Colvin opened a hardware store. A grain dealer, a
lumber yard, and a coal business were established in 1874. A school
house was also built in that year and began that fall with 24 students.
The village grew slowly. The 1880 census gave Bigelow a population of
only 28. (One must assume that many of the 24 students enrolled in the
Bigelow school resided on farms outside of the village.) Charles L.
Davidson, of Hull, Iowa,
purchased the townsite on January 25, 1892, and decided to "boom the
town", or attract investment and settlers. His efforts apparently paid
off, for by 1894, Bigelow claimed 150 residents. A census taken on
November 16, 1899, counted 224 residents. On February 13, 1900, an
election was held, and by a vote of 37 to 6 it was decided that the time
had come for municipal government. The first president of Bigelow was a
Mr. W. C. Wyatt.According to the 2010 census, Bigelow has
a population of 235. Perhaps a half-dozen businesses exist in the
town. In recent years, Minnesota State Highway 60,
which once passed directly through town, was upgraded to four-lanes,
and bypassed Bigelow entirely. Bigelow does not have a public school.
Children attend school either in nearby Worthington or in Ellsworth. Minnesota's open-enrollment law gives them this option.