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( Reads Landing, MN. )
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Reads Landing began as a Dakota trading post occupied by Augustin Rocque, a nephew of Chief Wapasha. In 1847 it was purchased by Charles Read, an English soldier, who recognized its value as a natural center for commerce and transportation because of its position along the banks of the Mississippi and the mouth of the Chippewa River.

Fur-laden canoes and countless logs timbered in Wisconsin were floated down the Chippewa River to Reads Landing, which became the center of the western Wisconsin lumber trade. 300-400 rafts men were often on hand in Reads Landing waiting for the arrival of the logs, which were then confined in rafts and floated down the Mississippi River. About 2000 of these log rafts left Reads Landing each year until 1915, when the choicest trees had been depleted. In 1869 the largest of these raft runs covered 3-1/2 acres.

As you drive along Highway 61 through this now quiet village, you probably wouldn't guess that there were once 27 hotels and 21 saloons in town.

The existing brick schoolhouse, built in 1870, is said to be only the second brick school built in Minnesota. Its educational role continues on as it houses the Wabasha County Historical Society's Museum. Displays open to the public include a school, country store, Laura Ingalls Wilder exhibit, Mississippi River artifacts, antique agricultural equipment, and much more.

Reads Landing flourished for a good many years after its incorporation in 1868, but it was eventually replaced by the neighboring town of Wabasha as a center of commerce and transportation. Today it is home to only 200 residents, but is visited by many American
bald eagle observers, fishermen, and museum-goers.

Reads Landing History:

For many years this had been a favorite stopping place for the Indians, who called it Waumadee. There was a rivalry between the owners of trading posts at Reads Landing, Nelson Landing and Wabasha. A fire which destroyed most of Nelson gave the advantage to Reads, which had a population of 1800 at one time. Charles Read began trading in 1847 and two years later built a warehouse. More warehouses following including a three story one. The city was incorporated in 1868 but began to go downhill and was unincorporated in 1896.

The Milwaukee Railroad established a single line from St. Paul to LaCrosse in 1872 and ten years later had a line across the river on a pontoon bridge. For many years a train made the trip one way in the morning and the other direction at night. The pontoon was used till the early 1950's when it was destroyed by a flood.

White pine was harvested in Wisconsin and floated down the St. Croix and Chippewa Rivers to Reads. Here it was made into larger rafts and continued down the river. This required a great deal of manpower. There were twenty-seven saloons and hotels at one time. With all the saloons and lumbermen the ladies of the evening were able to ply their trade. These activities spauned many fights and lots of interesting stories. Many businesses serviced the lumber trade. The city was also home to doctors, attorneys and a jewelry store. In about 1866 steamers were used to raft the logs but eventually the white pine was all harvested and Reads became a favorite lumberjack resort. The last raft went down the river in 1901.

For two or three weeks in the spring between the opening of the Mississippi and the opening of Lake Pepin it was a busy thriving metropolis as people waited for the lake to open. Reads Landing was considered a possible site for the MN. State capital at one time. The school which once had a population of 250 is now the Wabasha County Historical Society with a wonderful collection of clothing, utensils, and printed material. It is a great place to spend an hour or a few hours.

( Reads Landing, MN. )
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