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Situated in southeastern Minnesota, along the Mississippi River, just south of its confluence with the Chippewa River, the city of Wabasha is the county seat of Wabasha County.

Inhabited continuously since 1826, Wabasha is one of the oldest cities on the upper Mississippi River.

The city was named for the Sioux Chief Wa-pa-shaw, whose chief camping ground was in this area. The Chief's nephew, Augustin Rocque, was the first white settler in the area that was to become Wapasha. His father was a French fur trader and his mother was the sister of the Chief. Sometime after the War of 1812, Augustin established a home on the Upper Mississippi River, extending his trading operations.

Although treaties existed at that time reserving this land for the tribes, an article in the treaty allowed those with part Indian blood to settle permanently.

Augustin Rocque built a larger trading post in 1833, just north of the current location of Saint Elizabeth Hospital in Wabasha. Duncan Campbell built a cabin near that of Augustin Rocque

An 1837 treaty allowed whites to settle on the west side of the Mississippi River, and in the fall of 1838, Oliver Cratte became the first white man without Indian blood to settle in the area of the village of Wabasha. He opened a blacksmith shop there. Soon after, Joseph Buisson came, and Pierre Hortobese, another nephew of Chief Wa-ba-shaw, built a small home on the south side of the Zumbro River, south of Wabasha. An elderly man by the name of LaBatte built a shanty for Alexis Bailly in 1840. These early settlers were engaged in trade with the Indians or employed by the US government.

The village wasn't named Wabasha until 1843, and the original spelling was Wabashaw. The ending "w" was dropped in 1868. The community was first known as Cratte's Landing.

Lumber was an important industry for the new town, and it was a minor commercial center, as well, until the railroad replaced the steamboats that moved up and down the Mississippi. Clamming was also a significant industry for a time. Initially, clammers would search for pearls in Lake Pepin, just north of Wabasha, and discard the shells. Later, they found that the shells could be used in the manufacture of buttons and other items. Button factories were established in Wabasha and Lake City. Around 1940, the introduction of synthetics brought an end to the clamming industry.

Wabasha was named the county seat of Wabasha County in 1843, platted in 1854, and incorporated as a city in 1858. In 1850, the post office in Nelson's Landing, Wisconsin was moved across the river and named Wabashaw.

In 1857, the first of five state roads to be completed in Minnesota was the Mendota to Wabasha road. Ten years later, the Minnesota Central Railroad laid a track parallel to the road, and in 1871, the Chicago, Milwaukee and Saint Paul Railroad connected Wabasha to the cities of the east and established a station in Wabasha.

By 1915, the city had two banks, five churches, two public school buildings, a Catholic school, and nine lodges, as well as seventeen elevators, a mercantile store, a lumber yard, and a boatyard. Saint Elizabeth Hospital, a Catholic orphanage and poor farm, a fire department, and a health department were in operation. Others included the Wells Fargo Express Company, the Princess Theatre, Anderson Hotel, and Big Jo Flour Mill.

The population of Wabasha has remained in the 2000s since 1880, with a peak population of 2,599 in 2000.

The area is known for its eagles, and is the location of the National Eagle Center, which focuses on the conservation, research, and educational efforts on the part of eagles.

This is a guide to the city of Wabasha, Minnesota. Websites representing the municipal and county government, as well as local businesses, churches, schools, organizations, and individuals are appropriate for this category.

 

 

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