Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Discovering art in downtown Wabasha March 24, 2014


Each provides a canvas or backdrop for art in Wabasha, an historic Mississippi River town of 2,500 in southeastern Minnesota.

On a recent visit here to the National Eagle Center, where art abounds inside, I also noticed art integrated into the downtown.

Wabasha, Wapahasha II

A 10-foot tall bronze sculpture of Wapahasha II, a Native American after whom the city of Wabasha is named, stands atop a fountain next to the riverside eagle center.

If you shift your eyes a bit, you’ll notice a bridge in the distance. I view that 26-year-old link between Minnesota and Wisconsin as art given the overhead span of trusses.

Wabasha, eagle bench

Just up the street, set atop brick pavers, co-joined park benches have become artwork, too, with eagle paintings backing the benches. It’s a nice touch, emphasizing Wabasha’s eagles and the reason many visitors come here.

Wabasha, Riverside Dollar

Around the corner, Riverside Dollar also incorporates eagles into its signage on a cozy building tucked between taller historic buildings. Fifty properties in Wabasha are on the National Register of Historic Places, another reason I appreciate this community. The buildings, in and of themselves, are works of art with ornate details that showcase the craftsmanship of another era.

Wabasha, Squirt sign

A block away, a faded vintage Squirt sign painted onto the side of a brick building contrasts with a sleek and shiny Pepsi vending machine. That amuses me.

Wabasha, Rivertown Cafe front of

At the Rivertown Cafe, I appreciate the aging signage suspended from the second level. It adds a certain charm to the exterior and directs the eye toward the business.

Wabasha, street corner sculpture

A stone’s throw away, a modern sculpture graces a street corner.

Wabasha, cafe sign up close

Certainly, Wabasha features more art; I had time to photograph only this sampling this trip.


CLICK HERE TO READ my previous post about art inside the National Eagle Center.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


29 Responses to “Discovering art in downtown Wabasha”

  1. Deanna Auge Says:

    Fond memories of the historic Anderson House hotel. I took my children to Wabasha many years ago for a theatrical play. We had the best meals at the hotel, then stayed the night, accompanied by a feline pet.

  2. Dan Traun Says:

    Love the vintage Squirt sign on the brick wall.

  3. Beth Ann Says:

    Love the benches! What a great way to capitalize on the eagle theme. Once again you have captured some lovely pictures that show the charm of this small town. Thanks for the tour.

  4. LOVE looking for the unexpected too – art, signage, etc. – thanks so much for sharing:) Happy Week!

  5. treadlemusic Says:

    Wabasha, and its neighbor across the river (Nelson,WI) offer so much for the visitor who cares to take a few moments and saunter. The Anderson House was a fave of many for both meals and lodging. Today, I believe, it’s lodging only sans kitties. Lovely post!!!!!

  6. Clyde of Mankato Says:

    I miss the old spiral bridge, which would be ridiculous today.

  7. Jackie Says:

    Wabasha certainly is a beautiful little river town, rich in history and art! I also noticed that some of the sidewalks were paved with brick…I like that!

  8. Thread crazy Says:

    Looks as though Wabasha has all the warmth and charm of a small town. I can just imagine sitting there along the river, basking in the sun, of course on a much warmer day!

  9. hotlyspiced Says:

    It seems Wabasha is a very quaint old town with a lot of charm. I do love the bronze sculpture xx

  10. vivalaleta Says:

    Please add a photo of the new mural on our shop and possibly one of the mural next door which is currently a work in progress. Thank you.

    • I wrote this post more than two years ago. Next time I’m in Wabasha, and I have no idea when that will be, I’ll be looking for new photo ops. Thanks for the tip, although I would need to know the name and location of your shop.

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