Hastings is the county seat of Dakota County and is named for the first elected governor of the state of Minnesota, Henry Hastings Sibley.
The advantages of Hastings's location, which led to its original growth, are that it is well-drained, provides a good riverboat port, and is close to a hydropower resource at the falls of the Vermillion River.
The area around Hastings was first settled by a military detachment sent from Fort Snelling to guard a blocked shipment of supplies in the winter of 1820. In 1833 a trading post was opened there.
The name "Hastings" was drawn out of a hat from suggestions placed in it by several of the original founders.
In 1895 a spiral bridge was built over the Mississippi River, designed to slow down horse-drawn traffic as it entered downtown. The novel design became a tourist attraction, but the bridge was demolished in
1951 because it could not handle modern vehicles.
Hastings had its name affixed to two major Minnesota railroads, the Hastings & Dakota Railway and the Stillwater & Hastings Railway.
The Vermillion Falls Park features some impressive water falls. The spring thaw creates fat, rolling, cascades of thunderous applause. Later in the year, less water means more detail. The rocky crags are exposed to the sun and display interesting patterns in the river flow.
Hastings is also home to some of the most impressive classic-car cruises in the metroplex. Hundreds of restored and modified cars and bikes are seen ambling down the roads every weekend.