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The village of Searles grew after the Searles depot was built in 1899 on the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad. On October 10, 1899, Harry and Anna Jenkins platted the town site, and named it after the depot, which was named by railroad officials. Development of Searles was sponsored by the Iowa and Minnesota Land and Townsite Company, a subsidiary of the Chicago and North Western Railroad. One of the first businesses in Searles was the F. A. Wolthausen three-story general store. Before long, other businesses opened at Searles, including a grain elevator, a lumber company, a creamery, and a hardware store.