"City dwellers need go no farther than this if they seek romantic solitude," wrote panorama artist Henry Lewis in 1848. "One cannot imagine a more lovely expanse of water than Lake Pepin in quiet, clear weather, and no wilder scene than when, whipped by the storm, its waves bound against the rocky cliffs."[Seal of The Minnesota Historical Society]
Between the towns of Red Wing and Wabasha most of the rugged valley of the Upper Mississippi is filled by this river widening known as Lake Pepin. Long before the European explorer Father Louis Hennepin "discovered" what he called the "Lake of Tears" in 1680, it served as a highway for Indian people of many cultures. Their burial mounds and earthworks can still be found along its shores.
After the Minnesota Territory was opened to settlement in 1849, Lake Pepin saw a brisk commercial traffic generated by lumbering and agriculture. Huge rafts of logs, some 1,200 feet long and 300 feet wide, were towed down the river. Steamboats brought in thousands of new settlers and carried out the wheat and flour produced on the rich land. The lake itself provided resources for commercial fishermen and for clammers, who sold the clam shells to be used in button making.
Today's "city dwellers" and others still seek "romance" and recreation in sailing, water skiing, and fishing on the beautiful lake that has welcomed generations of visitors to Minnesota.
Erected by the Minnesota Historical Society