Two museums sit about two miles outside of Wabasha. To the north, in the hamlet of Reads Landing, is the Wabasha County Historical Museum (70537 206th Ave., 651/565-0357, www.wabashacountyhistory.org, 1–4 p.m. Sat.–Sun., mid-May–mid-Oct., free admission), which occupies a musty 1870 schoolhouse, the second brick school built in Minnesota. The most interesting parts of the historical hodgepodge are the pearl-button display (this was once a very lucrative industry all along the river) and the copies of letters sent by Pa and Laura Ingalls to family across the river in Pepin, Wisconsin, the town where Laura was born. There is farm machinery in the back annex.
To the south along Highway 60 is the far more interesting Arrowhead Bluffs Museum (17505 667th St., 651/565-3829, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily May–Nov., $5 adults), an eclectic private collection of old farming and logging tools, arrowheads, bottles, and one of every Winchester gun model (including commemoratives) from 1866 to 1982. Mounted wildlife from across North America includes moose, polar bear, javelinas, and scorpions.
Believe it or not, the world’s largest collection of wedding kimonos—more than 4,000—are for sale in Wabasha at Wind Whisper West (128 Main St., 651/565-2002, www.windwhisperwest.com, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Fri., noon–4 p.m. Sat.–Sun.). Now that most Japanese women wear western-style dresses, these uchikake are collected as art. Richard Fuller, who opened the store when his hobby got out of hand, can tell you everything you want to know about these vibrant gowns.
© Tim Bewer from Moon Minnesota, 3rd Edition