DeSoto was settled in the early 1800s by pioneers who were interested in mining and farming. It became famous for the many artesian wells in the area and was named Fountain City. For many years, it remained a small country community, with a population of about 200 people in 1850. The railroad came to DeSoto in 1857, when the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad established car shops here. This business, which employs about 500 people, has continued to this day under several railroad companies, the present one being the Union Pacific Railroad. DeSoto received All American City awards in 1953 and 1959 and was recognized as the Center of Population in the United States for the decade of 1980-1990.