Minnesota October 27, 2022
Minnesota Just Wouldn’t Be The Same Without These 3 Charming Small Towns
Three towns, each in one of the state’s three major biomes, help to define Minnesota as it is today. These charming, historic towns – Wabasha, Ely, and Luverne – are all important crossroads in the state’s human and natural history.
At almost 200 years old, Wabasha was Minnesota's first settlement. In fact, it was first mentioned in an 1830 treaty between the "Northwest Indian Tribes" and the United States signed at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Its charming downtown area is still chock-full of historic buildings, many dating to the nineteenth century. Given its rich history, Minnesota just wouldn't be Minnesota without Wabasha.
Situated on the banks of the Mississippi, the river and all that it stands for - history, tourism, commerce - have largely defined Wabasha.
The area's river bluffs and Big Woods forest also make the town a Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts.
Civic pride, along with strong senses of community and history, have kept Wabasha vibrant. Tourists visit to walk its streets or attend its many annual events, like SeptOberfest.
The Mississippi River is a major flyway for migration, which resulted in The National Eagle Center establishing itself here. Thousands of birders flock to Wabasha every year to witness the migration of eagles and dozens of other bird species.
National Eagle Center, 50 Pembroke Ave, Wabasha, MN 55981, USA
After a little more than 60 miles, the road passes through Ely.
The charming town started as a fur trading post but gained permanence during a mining boom in the late 19th century. Today, it's a gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt designated the Superior National Forest. Thirty years later, the portion of the forest that would eventually become the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness ("BWCAW") was set aside for preservation.
Ely's location on the edge of the BWCAW made it an ideal gateway for wilderness adventurers. As such, the town became an early example of tourism supplanting industry as the major economic driver in some of Minnesota's most scenic areas.
Ely has embraced its role as a basecamp for outdoor adventure. Now, when folks think of Ely, they think of the Boundary Waters, canoeing, fishing, and dogsledding.
Moreover, educational attractions like the International Wolf Center and North American Bear Center also draw visitors to this iconic Minnesota town.
International Wolf Center, 1396 MN-169, Ely, MN 55731, USA
Luverne was established in 1868, along the banks of the Rock River, as it cuts through the tallgrass prairie of southwestern Minnesota.
The charming, historic town has been a bustling regional center since its founding. But its notoriety got a boost when Ken Burns profiled Luverne in his 2007 documentary, The War.
A nearby upwelling of Sioux quartzite had long made the area a destination for Native peoples. They used quartzite to make pipes and other utensils.
Pipestone National Monument was established north of Luverne to preserve and protect historic native quarries. The quartzite is also evident in many of the area's historic buildings and in the geology at Blue Mounds State Park.
Blue Mounds State Park is home to one of three state-owned herds of American bison.
Luverne's history and presence at this important crux of natural and human history on the prairie make it an iconic Minnesota town.
Blue Mounds State Park, 1410 161st St, Luverne, MN 56156, USA
Have you visited Wabasha, Ely, or Luverne? In fact, taking a few days to visit each sounds like an excellent idea for a
road trip! What town do you think best defines Minnesota? Address: Minnesota, USA Address: National Eagle Center, 50 Pembroke Ave, Wabasha, MN 55981, USA Address: International Wolf Center, 1396 MN-169, Ely, MN 55731, USA Address: Blue Mounds State Park, 1410 161st St, Luverne, MN 56156, USA
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