Welcome to Wabasha, a historic rivertown for ALL SEASONS. Wabasha is also the home of "Grumpy Old Men" movies and the future home of The National Eagle Center. Hopefully, most people visiting Wabasha realize we are proud of our role in the movies, and that we have all the "old grouches" locked up. So in fact, Wabasha is friendly and has quite a reputation for its hospitality and its eagle watching. Wabasha has one of the largest winter concentrations of bald eagles in the lower 48 States.
Wabasha, an historic river town of 2400 people, will provide a friendly haven for your vacation during all seasons. We're a truly Mid-American town that can turn back the clock to the days when the "liven' was easy."
Established in the 1830's, Wabasha lays claim to being Minnesota's oldest community and is listed on the National Historic Register. Visitors are pleased to find three area museums and often some of their own heritage.
Visitors find many festivals here with flea markets, an 85 mile garage sale, county fair, Riverboat Days, arts and crafts fair, annual car cruises, a Grumpy Old Men Festival with ice fishing and an ice shack contest, as well as eagle watching.
- EagleWatch staff assist you in spotting the great American Bald Eagles which winter here in one of their favorite river haunts from November to March.
- Lawrence Boulevard is the riverfront "walk n' roll." Walkers, joggers, birdwatchers, rollerbladers, and bikers enjoy this one-of-a-kind boulevard.
- Lodging includes 70 rooms in five establishments from basic to whirlpool suites and Minnesota's oldest operating hotel. The area also has 240 camp sites.
- Two full service marinas with overnight docking plus houseboat and boat rentals offer you a fun and memorable boating experience.
Public facilities include a boat launch and parking, city dock, parks, swimming pool, tennis courts, ball parks, and ice skating rinks. Four wildlife areas in the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Forest provide trails for XC skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, horseback riding, and camping areas.
- Retail Shops specialize in American and Australian wool products, Grumpy Old Men clothing, souvenirs, collector plates, antiques, quilts, eagle products, gourmet coffee and cappuccino. Local artists are prevalent in the shops with clothing, dolls, pottery, crafts, jewelry, and paintings.
- Restaurants offer a wide variety of dining. Over a dozen cafes, restaurants and lounges can tantalize your taste buds. Some offer conference and banquet facilities.
- As a port of call for the magnificent steamboats - the Mississippi, American, and Delta Queens - Wabasha is a much-desired stopover where the "past meets the present."
- The bluffs are picturesque with lush green in summer and spectacular foliage in fall. The slopes give downhill skiers the best in coulee skiing. Snowmobilers have 100 miles of groomed trails. Atop the bluff, a nine hole golf course views the valley.
- The Mississippi River and thousands of acres of backwaters offer miles of sandy beaches, coves for camping, boating, hunting, fishing year-round, jet skiing, canoeing, waterskiing, houseboating, and picnicking.
Wabasha is truly an historic rivertown for ALL SEASONS.
In March of 1849 an act of Congress established the Minnesota Territory. Seven months later the first Territorial Legislature met and created nine counties, Wabasha County being one of them. The original boundary of Wabasha County was from just south of Stillwater, Minnesota extending west to the Missouri River with the southern boundary being the present-day Iowa border.
Wabasha is one of the oldest cities along the Mississippi, having been continuously occupied since 1826. It would be 1843 before the settlement would be named Wabasha, after Chief Wa-pa-shaw III.
In 1842 Fr. Augustin Ravoux put a log cabin on a raft in Mendota and floated it down the Mississippi to Wabasha where it would first be used as a chapel. In 1855 the log cabin, which was placed where Main Street now terminates, would be used as a school, and in 1857 the first paper published in Wabasha was printed in that building.
St. Felix Catholic Church, dating back to 1842, is one of the oldest church organizations in Minnesota. The present structure was rebuilt in 1893, having been destroyed by fire in 1874. The Catholic Church was also instrumental in founding St. Elizabeth's Hospital in 1898, St. Joseph's Orphanage in 1900 and St. Felix School in 1920. Thomas Irvine built Grace Episcopal Church in 1900 as a gift in memory of his wife, Emily Hills Irvine, who was the daughter of a former rector of the parish. The chancel window of this church, which depicts the two Marys at the tomb on Easter morning was made by Tiffany of New York at a cost of $3,000.00.
For more interesting stories about the history of Wabasha, the Wabasha Public Library maintains a collections of 6 books written by David Jones which chronicle many humorous incidents from Wabasha's colorful past.