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Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

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Preserve America Community:
Wabasha, Minnesota

Wabasha (population 2400) is Minnesota’s oldest community and one of the oldest cities along the Mississippi. Native and fur trade communities in this area go back to the 1600s, and Wabasha, continuously occupied since 1826, was established as a town in 1830. In 1843 the settlement was named Wabasha, after Chief Wa-pa-shaw III.

Much of the historic downtown has been restored to its turn-of-the-century appearance through community development block grants and private investment. Wabasha's historic district has more than 50 buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors to this river town can take a walking tour to explore Wabasha's history.

Sites worth a visit include three area museums and the Grace Memorial Episcopal Church, the oldest Episcopal church in Minnesota. The church is rich in history and features a one of a kind Tiffany stained glass window. One of the more unique establishments in Wabasha is the Anderson House, a historic hotel that encourages you to "rent a cat" for the duration of your stay!

An abandoned rail line has been transformed into a pedestrian way as part of a waterfront redevelopment. Wabasha is a popular port of call for steamboats and during the summer of 2004 the City celebrated the Grand Excursion, the largest riverboat flotilla in over a century, as part of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. Wabasha has one of the largest concentrations of bald eagles in the lower 48 states and the National Eagle Center is Wabasha’s newest attraction.

The City is also home of the “Grumpy Old Men” movies, written by Mark Steven Johnson about his grandfather, Wabasha native Charles Gilbert. Many of the places mentioned in the movie (such as the local VFW and Slippery's Taverne) can be found in Wabasha, which hosts an annual Grumpy Old Men Festival, as well as Riverboat Days, and a county fair.

For more information:

Wabasha Chamber of Commerce: www.wabashamn.org

Wabasha History: www.mississippi-river.org/wabasha.html

Updated April 29, 2009

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