Rich land, trapping, and accessibility brought the first trappers and then the early pioneers to this region. The rich game land attracted a trapper named Austin Nichols, who built the first log cabin and staked his claim in 1853. He later sold the claim to Chauncey Leverich in 1854 and the small community was started.
In the year 1853, there were approximately twenty families in the area, but by 1855 long trains of covered wagons hauling personal belongings and followed by livestock came to the rich prairie. In 1856 there were enough settlers to organize officially a county, and so Mower County began. The same year the tiny community named itself Austin, after the trapper who had built its first log cabin.
Austin, Minnesota, is historically and economically well-situated in the south-central part of Minnesota. Founded on the old Territorial Trail, on the south banks of the Cedar River, the county seat of Mower County now stands at the junction of highways U.S. 218, which runs north and south, and Interstate 90, which runs east and west. These provide easy access to the city from all points.