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Cobden was originally named North Branch, after the northern branch of the Cottonwood River that passes nearby. The river branch is now called Sleepy Eye Creek. The city grew around a railroad depot established as a stop between Sleepy Eye and Springfield. The community was renamed in 1886 for Richard Cobden of England when a post office was established. Cobden incorporated as a village in 1905. Early businesses in Cobden included a flour mill – the Cobden Farmers’ Milling Company, a creamery built in 1905, grain elevators, grocery stores, a carriage shop and a bank.
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