"The Mississippi Great River Road was listed among
the top three most beautiful drives in the country"

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Maiden Rock, WI.
For more information visit the Maiden Rock web site.
The Great River Road concept led to an awakening. Artisans, mostly from the Twin Cities, discovered the untamed beauty of the bluff lands. They found abandoned buildings waiting for restoration, small towns ready to be revitalized. Old farms and houses provided a wealth of antiques and collectibles.

Many years ago the Native Americans gathered wild turnips and onions along the shore of the Mississippi at the wide area we now call Lake Pepin. The great curve on the northwest bank was specially favored for its shallow protected waters. Later came white men for furs. They, too, found the sheltered cove by the Rush River a fine place to camp.

Potters, painters and weavers came to produce beautiful items to sell to travelers. Now the villages along the Mississippi are once again thriving. Along with the natural beauty that has always been the strongest asset, there are dozens of retail attractions to entice the visitor.

Wildlife abounds along the river. Visitors can be assured they'll see wild turkeys, herons, diving ducks, fox, raccoons, deer, and other critters. Look for the large, platform-like nests of eagles in the Rush River bottoms. The air currents make it an excellent place to watch eagles soaring in singular majesty and "kettles" of vultures gliding on high, confusing the uninitiated who think they are seeing eagles.
Each season provides changing natural splendor. Maiden Rock may be a tiny town along the Mississippi but there is a renewed spirit to improve and showcase our most lovely area.

Pick up a copy of the Maiden Rock Press in our local shops and read all about the new happenings as well as clips from the past that can bring a chuckle of appreciation for the "good old days."
The Maiden Rock Community Association hosts Summerfest on the third Saturday in June with food booths, a flea market and craft show, several musical groups, games of skill for kids, and, of course, a grand parade.

Fireworks fill the sky and shower their brilliant reflections across the water on July 4.

Motorcycle enthusiasts ride the circle tour of Lake Pepin in a great caravan in late April and again in October with Maiden Rock a favorite stop-over for refreshments.

Late August brings Rock For The Dock celebration, a benefit for the dock facility that has come about through the efforts of the Maiden Rock Improvement Association.

On the first Saturday of December, the community celebrates the coming holidays with an old-fashioned Christmas customer appreciation day. Our village welcomes visitors to use our lakeside park, to stroll between the intriguing shops, and to enjoy bird-watching or bike along the Great River Road and other scenic paths. Almost a mile south of town off AA can be found one of Wisconsin's designated Rustic Roads. On the bluff tops, north of town travelers can discover an apple orchard and a pick-your-own berry farm. Travelers can find camping facilities in the park or stay in the area bed and breakfast establishments. The onset of winter brings a quiet to the great valley. Some shops, having no heating plants, close their doors until the warmth of spring returns. Others remain open to welcome visitors to Maiden Rock and its sister villages. The snow covered bluffs and coulees invite exploration on snowshoes or skis. Lake Pepin's frozen expanse beckons hardy men and women to erect shelters and to seek after the prized walleye. Local inns offer cozy retreats from the often hectic pre-Christmas rush. Join us to watch eagles gather as the ice breaks up in March.

Maiden Rock tidbits

  • In 1893, a fire razed four buildings in Maiden Rock: a drug store, a general store, a barber shop and a photography studio.
  • In 1911-1912, six fires ruined two grain elevators, the train depot, a hotel and several residences.
  • Following a major flood that rumbled down the bluffs in 1975, a series of dams, terraces, contour strips and debris traps was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Maiden Rock is home to one of the largest berry growing farms in Wisconsin.
  • The Rush River, located just outside of Maiden Rock, is one of the finest trout streams in the area.
  • Eagles frequent the shores of Lake Pepin throughout the year, but eagle watching in the spring and fall, when the big birds congregate during their migrations, can present the viewer with groups of 10 or more eagles flying over the lake or sitting in the trees along the lake shore.

Maiden Rock History:

The Minnesota city of Winona is named for We-no-nah, the maiden who leaped to her death rather than wed a man she did not love. This is one of the best known legends of the region and there are many versions of the story. We-no-nah, meaning first born girl was the daughter of Chief Ta-te-psin, whose village was at the falls of St. Anthony. She was very fond of Father Menard, the Catholic missionary and first white man in the area. We-no-nah cared for him during his final illness and buried him with her family.

She had many suitors but dreamed of more pale faces to come. The Dakotah braves proposal of marriage was at nighttime to hold his 'lover's torch' over the head of the maiden he wanted. One man, Tamdoka, had thus proposed three times to We-no-nah. but each time she had covered her head, which was the sign of rejection. One day a French trader and explorer arrived at the Indian village. He and his group were entertained with a feast and games. He in turn was generous with gifts. We-no-nah received a deep red shawl, a necklet and some ribbons. She told DuLuth of Father Menards death and burial and presented him with the priest's gown and prayer book.

During the games Tamdoka was an easy winner in the races, whereupon he was challenged and beaten by DuLuth. Tamdoka became very angry when he saw We-no-nah's pleasure with DuLuth's win and the Indian began plotting against the Frenchman. We-no-nah's elderly father died, leaving the harsh stepmother in charge of the children. As head of the family she had a right to sell We-no-nah toTamdoka. Meanwhile DuLuth was planning to return to France. We-no-nah pleaded to go with him. DuLuth promised to return in the spring. We-no-nah warned him of Tomdoka's plot to assassinate DuLuth when he left the Falls and he successfully avoided an encounter with Tamdoka.

In celebration of spring, all the Indian bands joined together in games at Keoya, which was somewhere between Wabasha and Winona. The stepmother and Tamdoka had arranged for the sale of We-no-nah at the spring games and she must then go to Tamdoka's tent. We-no-nah rowed her own canoe to the games, still hoping for DuLuth to return. She was with the bands camped for the night at the tall bluff which rose 400 feet above the water. We-no-nah climbed to the top, stood at the brink and sang her death song. As Tamdoka and other warriors rushed toward her, she leaped from the rock. While the women were still searching for her body, the sound of an oar was heard as DuLuth returned as he had promised.
In the late 1800's a tourist boat was approaching Maiden Rock as the captain told the story including the fact that people still claim to hear her song. He waid there have been reports of Winona appearing on the precipice. At that moment a young girl stepped to the brink and waved a handkerchief. Was it the ghost of We-no-nah?

MVP | PO Box 1 | Wabasha, MN 55981